HFEA screening requirements change for women who provide eggs, or embryos created with their eggs, for their partners treatment

Following the release of a new HFEA consent form for women providing eggs, or embryos created with their eggs, for use in their partner’s treatment (the WPT form) the HFEA sent clarification to all clinics at the end of August 2021 as to screening requirements in these circumstances.  

In summary these new requirements require a woman providing eggs or embryos to her same sex partner to be fully screened as a donor which includes genetic testing and testing for infectious diseases beyond that, that would be required for a ‘non-donor’ treatment. The HFEA statement in full is as follows:

Paragraph 7 of Schedule 3A of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 specifies that “In relation to donations of gametes or embryos other than partner-donated sperm or partner-created embryos, licence conditions shall require compliance with the selection criteria for donors and the requirements for laboratory tests laid down in section 3 (donations other than by partners) of Annex III to the second Directive.” This provision incorporates the requirements of the Second European Tissues and Cells Directive into the 1990 Act.  “Partner-created embryos” are defined in paragraph 12 of Schedule 3A as ‘embryos created using the gametes of a man and a woman who declare that they have an intimate physical relationship’. In other words, ‘partner donation’ is the donation of reproductive cells between a man and a woman who declare that they have an intimate physical relationship; this excludes two women who are in a relationship.   Therefore, whilst female partners who are sharing eggs or embryos created with each other’s eggs may be registered as partners rather than donors, and the new consent form reflects this, to comply with the requirements of Schedule 3A, they must be screened as donors in line with the standard licence conditions.  

The HFEA state that they understand patients may be concerned with the additional costs and burden that this screening requirement involves and that they have raised this concern with the Department of Health and Social Care as any changes to this area would require a change in the law. CRGW are aware that this law is already being challenged by our own professional bodies along with charities including Stonewall.

How does this affect our treatment? For any patient who has already started treatment (stimulation medication), a risk assessment will be undertaken by clinics to assess whether this is a minimal risk in the egg provider being screened as a partner and not as a donor, and whether clinics consider it appropriate to continue with treatment without additional tests. Patients who have not started stimulation will need to have the additional newly required tests.