Since the HFEA regulations changed allowing patients in the UK to ship their sperm, eggs and embryos Internationally there has been an increase in ‘Hybrid International Surrogacy’. This may involve creating embryos in the UK and shipping them to the US or Canada for transfers into a surrogate to take place. Another popular option we’re seeing is creating embryos in the US with the shipped UK sperm using a US Donor egg. Saving time and money in some cases.
Our Directory Partners for FDA Blood and Sperm Shipping, GENNET City Fertility based in London have written this educational and informative blog, guiding you through their process for our members. Thank you Lukáš Beránek for this excellent overview.
‘If you are planning on travelling to the US in order to take that next step in forming your family through surrogacy, you may currently find that options for getting there are limited. At GENNET City Fertility, we would like to help make the process quicker and easier for you overall by offering tests, screenings, and sperm freezing you would need to undergo abroad, right here at our private clinic in London, UK.
Our Process Before Shipping to the US
Before any sperm sample can be shipped to the U.S, patients will need to undergo a series of blood screenings and urine tests to check for signs of certain infections, diseases, or viruses.
We will need to have the results of these screenings on file and in our case negative before we move forward with your treatment. This is because we cannot freeze or store positive samples. Your clinic may also require a semen analysis to be done before freezing can take place, so please talk to your treating clinician if this is required.
The full process (all screenings, tests, and sperm freezing) will be carried out in two appointments. How this will work depends on how you choose to book your screenings:
Booking of STD screening with GENNET City Fertility
You may need to attend our clinic (GENNET City Fertility, 16 St John Street, London, EC1M 4NT) in order to have these screenings and tests performed. When you choose to book with the clinic in London, you will be given a choice of weekday slots between 8:30am and 3pm, so you can choose the time which suits your needs best.
If you book your first appointment with us, we will be glad to arrange the other services you need after this.
If you require a semen analysis, we can schedule you in for this on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays after 12pm, or between 9am and 2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Booking of STD screening with The Doctors Laboratory (TDL)
You may also choose to have your screenings conducted through a TDL laboratory in London (TDL, 76 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 9RT). This will be carried out on the same day as your sperm freezing appointment, and you will need to attend the lab at 8am.
The quicker turnaround time in processing bloods at TDL will then allow you to make your way back to our clinic at 12:30pm, where we will be able to freeze your sperm sample subject to the blood results being negative.
Your Second Appointment
If you decide to go with the screening through the TDL option, your appointment for sperm freezing will be on the same day at City Fertility.
If you have to have the screening through our clinic, we will be happy to book your second appointment for you at least five days after your screenings to allow for the results to come back. If the blood test returns and is negative, we will then be able to move forward with freezing your sperm sample.
You will need to abstain from intercourse or other forms of ejaculation for a minimum of two days to a maximum of four days prior to the appointment. The sample will then be produced via masturbation, in the privacy of one of the rooms in the clinic.
This appointment is very often booked on the same day as the FDA Tests and Examination to minimise the number of visits to the clinic. However, we will be happy to book the appointments on different days if you would prefer this.
FDA Tests and Examinations
As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires U.S clinics to carry out blood and urine draws, which are then shipped for testing at a laboratory, the team will conduct these as part of your second appointment. If required, we will also carry out the physical exam that the FDA notes is needed. Both of these exams will need to be done within a 7-day window, either before or after the sample has been frozen in preparation for shipping.
These tests and examinations should be carried out before treatment takes place because patients attending U.S registered clinics must be screened through labs that are licensed with the FDA, or that use FDA-licensed, approved, or cleared tests (where such tests are available).
What to Expect of an FDA Physical Exam?
The FDA physical exam is straightforward, and will include:
- A basic physical examination (including of the skin and mouth)
- A blood pressure check
- Auscultation (listening to the patient’s heart and lungs)
- An abdominal examination
- An examination of the patient’s genitals
- A pelvic exam and ultrasound for patients who are female, or non-binary or transgender patients who were born female
Once the exam is over, the specialist will go through a list of questions with you on your general health and lifestyle, as well as some questions about piercings, tattoos, or surgeries you have undergone, as these can increase the risk of a patient carrying previously undiagnosed blood-borne infections.
To rule this out, the FDA requires clinics to carry out bloodwork and check for infections, diseases, or other viruses.
Why Do I Need an FDA Physical Exam?
An FDA physical exam will normally be carried out because any egg or sperm provided for surrogacy is legally considered a tissue donation in the USA. This means that any sample will be treated with the same consideration as a medically donated organ.
You will need to undergo the exam to make sure you don’t have any infections, diseases, or viruses that could be passed on through your genetic material.
Who Will Carry Out the Exam?
Any exam provided by the clinic will be carried out by a specialist physician, with assistance from a professional medical team and help from coordinators.
Is the Procedure Painless?
In most cases, the exam will be completely painless. We will also do everything we can to make sure our patients stay comfortable during the procedure.
Will There be Any Side Effects?
Side effects of the FDA physical exam have been found to be minimal, so you won’t have to worry about feeling under the weather or uncomfortable once it’s done.
Will I Have to Remove Clothing?
You will need to remove your clothing in order for the physical exam to take place. However, you will be given a paper gown to wear, and you will be able to get dressed again before the specialist asks you any questions or carries out bloodwork.
We don’t want you to have to worry about how our services will fit into your budget, especially at a time which may already be overwhelming, contact us for pricing and please note, shipping isn’t included in the below package.
The package includes:
- STD screening done through the TDL laboratory or at City Fertility
- FDA blood & urine kit preparation with a registered nurse
- FDA Physical Exam carried out by a specialist physician
- Sperm Freezing & necessary storage until the day of your shipping (max up to 12 months after the freeze event)
- Export administration fee connected with preparation of paperwork for shipping
Our Fertility Courier Service (Cryo Shipping)
All of our courier services are conducted by CT Shipper, our own in-house facility for transporting gametes and embryos across the globe. This professional service specialises in the secure door-to-door transportation of any material shipped out, and you may rest assured that one of our trained members of staff will always travel with the samples sent to guarantee their safety throughout the transport. The temperature will be monitored and recorded during the transport to ensure that the conditions are as close as possible to liquid nitrogen, which is used for storing your frozen samples.
We will also ensure that your samples are not exposed to X-ray radiation, which can have a negative impact on the DNA stability.
To give you further peace of mind, please note your samples will be insured for damage/loss during the transport. We are also proud to share that we have transported nearly 4,000 shipments worldwide so far without a single issue or claim. This is because we have robust policies and procedures in place to ensure that your samples are kept safe at all times.
Contact GENNET City Fertility
If you would like to learn more about any of our treatments or services, or to book a consultation with a discreet and understanding specialist, please don’t hesitate to contact us today’
Lukas Berenek – Managing Director, Gennet City Fertility