IVF women face waiting two years for donor eggs: Covid donation services pause has worsened shortage

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IVF women face waiting two years for donor eggs: Shortage was made worse by Covid pandemic after donation services were paused

  • Egg donors were already in short supply before the coronavirus pandemic
  • It has exacerbated waiting times after donation services were paused 
  • Experts say young women who would have previously donated their eggs were distracted by Covid-related worries or felt nervous about going to clinics

Women are facing waiting lists of up to two years to start a family with donated eggs.

Egg donors, much like sperm donors, were already in short supply and Covid has only exacerbated waiting times after donation services were paused.

At Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the wait is now typically nine to 12 months, while Aberdeen Fertility Centre puts its times at 12 to 14 months, a snapshot investigation by the Daily Mail found.

The London Egg Bank has no waiting list, but in Liverpool it is believed to be about a year for donor eggs on the NHS.

And Edinburgh Fertility Centre has a delay of around 25 months. 

The pandemic also meant that young women who previously would have donated their eggs were distracted by Covid-related worries or felt nervous about going to clinics, according to experts.

But demand has remained high, with almost one in five women over 40 who have IVF treatment choosing to use another woman’s eggs.

Women are facing waiting lists of up to two years to start a family with donated eggs. Egg donors, much like sperm donors, were already in short supply and Covid has only exacerbated waiting times after donation services were paused [Stock image]

Women are facing waiting lists of up to two years to start a family with donated eggs. Egg donors, much like sperm donors, were already in short supply and Covid has only exacerbated waiting times after donation services were paused [Stock image]

The pandemic also meant that young women who previously would have donated their eggs were distracted by Covid-related worries or felt nervous about going to clinics, according to experts. But demand has remained high, with almost one in five women over 40 who have IVF treatment choosing to use another woman's eggs [Stock image]

The pandemic also meant that young women who previously would have donated their eggs were distracted by Covid-related worries or felt nervous about going to clinics, according to experts. But demand has remained high, with almost one in five women over 40 who have IVF treatment choosing to use another woman's eggs [Stock image]

The pandemic also meant that young women who previously would have donated their eggs were distracted by Covid-related worries or felt nervous about going to clinics, according to experts. But demand has remained high, with almost one in five women over 40 who have IVF treatment choosing to use another woman’s eggs [Stock image]

As people leave it later in life to become parents, many women end up struggling to conceive because of their age.

Using eggs from a younger woman during IVF increases their chances of having a baby.

Donors are also used by women who have had medical treatment which has damaged their fertility and by gay male couples.

Jane Holman, of donation agency Altrui, said: ‘There has always been an extreme shortage of good-quality eggs, but demand for eggs is higher since the pandemic… outstripping supply even more.

‘Those looking for donated eggs have been unable to travel, making matters worse, and women looking for eggs are telling us they are struggling to get them.’

Women seeking an egg donor have often already faced years of unsuccessfully trying for a baby, which makes the added delays distressing for them.

Nina Barnsley, of the Donor Conception Network, said: ‘Having to wait longer than six months is very stressful and people feel as if their life is on pause.’

And Gwenda Burns, of Fertility Network UK, added: ‘Longer waiting times can be emotionally distressing while trying to conceive.’ 

Allister Short, of NHS Lothian, which oversees the Edinburgh centre, said: ‘Covid has had an impact on the service – for example at the height of the pandemic, in line with other areas of Scotland, services were paused and we were unable to recruit new donors.’

He added: ‘Ongoing restrictions including the requirement for increased physical distancing means that we are not able to schedule as many appointments as we previously would have.’

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