Lesbians encouraged to start IVF families
A CLINIC has become the first in Scotland to launch a drive to encourage more lesbian couples to become parents to IVF babies.
The move comes after doctors discovered many lesbians wanting children of their own were struggling to find ways to become mothers.
It also follows an urgent appeal by the clinic, IVF Scotland, to recruit more sperm donors to help childless couples in Scotland become parents.
Having doubled its number of donors, the Edinburgh-based clinic will today launch a campaign to encourage more lesbians to consider having IVF.
It includes Scotland’s first-ever same-sex open evening where people can learn what options are available to them, as well as radio and social media advertising to encourage more same-sex parents.
Dr Joo Thong, IVF Scotland’s lead consultant in reproductive medicine, said: “Fertility services are readily available to heterosexual couples, but there is work to be done to inform lesbian couples of the options available to them, which are different.
“The number of lesbians coming to us is small, but the number is growing. Having spoken to them, we realised there is a real lack of information and support available for same-sex couples, and single people, who would like to conceive.”
He said he understood some people and organisations would oppose same-sex parents, but said everyone wanting to try for a baby had a right to do so. He added: “There might be critics of this, but everyone deserves the opportunity to start a family. Our aim is to assist couples and singles from all backgrounds and groups to become pregnant if that is their wish.”
Only a few lesbian couples have visited the clinic at Spire Shawfair Park, one of only two in Scotland to provide the private treatment, since it opened two years ago.
Most have been refused any help conceiving on the NHS on the simple grounds that, as a couple, they do not bring any sperm. Single women are currently not eligible for IVF treatment on the NHS in the Lothians. The most popular treatment for lesbian couples is intrauterine insemination (IUI). A catheter is attached to the womb area and sperm is administered. Most women take up to three attempts before they become pregnant. One course of IUI costs an average £1,000.
Dr Thong hopes the new drive will encourage more lesbians fulfil their dream to become parents. Lesbians who have been treated at the clinic will talk about their experiences at a range of events specifically aimed at the lesbian community.
The expert also revealed a drop in the number of sperm donors in Scotland since new rules were brought in making it a legal requirement for children born via IVF to learn the identity of their father when they turn 18.
The donors, who come from all backgrounds, are paid £35 a visit and are required to give a minimum of 12 donations.
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