Research undertaken by the London Women's Clinic (LWC) was strongly represented at the 2011 annual meeting of the British Fertility Society, which took place in Dublin in January. One study generating considerable interest showed that the IVF fertility technique of egg-sharing is an effective treatment for lesbians and could even help solve Britain's shortage of donor eggs.
The results, which were derived from a study of 393 consecutive egg-sharing and conventional IVF treatments in lesbian women at the LWC, showed that the benefits of egg-sharing are conferred equally among those who shared their eggs and those who received them. More than half of the sharers (59%) and 47% of the recipients achieved successful pregnancies, results far higher than those achieved with traditional insemination treatments for lesbian women.
Since then - and in the light of the results - the LWC has supported a policy of egg-sharing over payment to donors in a consultation process now being undertaken by Britain's fertility watchdog, the HFEA. At present, patient demand for donor eggs at the LWC is met entirely from those supplied from the egg-sharing programme; no patients are referred abroad and no donors have unnecessary treatment. 'If women are given these facts - that the chances of success are high, that costs are reduced and that other patients are helped - egg sharing will prove a more attractive policy than increased compensation,' said Dr Ahuja.