Consent to treatment
Before treatment can take place, you’ll need to complete a number of consent forms. This is because the clinic needs to make sure that you understand, and agree to, all that is involved in having treatment.
The consent forms are necessary to protect you and any child you may have.
The HFEA provides clinics with consent forms for different treatment options and you and your partner will have to sign the forms relevant to your circumstances. For your consent to be valid, the printed form must have your signature and it must be current (that is, you have not subsequently withdrawn consent).
Understanding your treatment
It is important that you fully understand the implications of the treatment you are consenting to undergo. Your clinic should help you to do this by:
- offering you the opportunity to have professional counselling, which many people find helpful.
- providing information about the procedures involved in your treatment.
Make sure you ask questions so you understand what your treatment involves and all its possible outcomes. Take your time to reflect on this before you sign anything.
The different types of consent
There are three different types of consent:
1. Consent to your fertility treatment
Basically this is similar to the form you have to sign for many other medical treatments. For example, if you are having IVF you will have to consent to egg retrieval and the transfer of embryos into your womb.
2. Consent to disclosure of information
Discloure by your clinic
Your clinic is not allowed to tell your GP or anyone else about your treatment unless they have your consent to do so. It is up to you to decide what information you allow to be disclosed and to whom.
Disclosure by the HFEA
HFEA licensed centres collect patient information, some of which comes to us at the HFEA and is recorded on our Register. As of 1 October 2009, if patients consent, the HFEA is able to release patient identifying information to researchers. Research projects must met strict guidelines before such information is given.
3. Consent to the use and storage of sperm, eggs and /or any embryos produced from them
You can consent to your sperm, eggs or embryos being used for your own treatment, for the treatment of others, for research, or training purposes. Storage relates to the freezing of sperm, eggs or embryos for future use.
4. Consent to parenthood
Yopu will be asked to provide the appropriate parenthood consents before embryo transfer or insemination takes place. This ensures that any child born has a legally recognised father or second parent.
You can change or withdraw your consent at any time by getting in touch with the clinic where your sperm, eggs, or embryos are being stored, as long as they have not already been used in treatment, research or training.
Your partner or a donor may also change or withdraw consent at any time until the sperm, eggs or embryos have been used in treatment. You must also state what you would like to happen to these sperm, eggs or embryos if you were to die or become mentally incapacitated. If you wish them to be donated for the treatment of others you must complete a consent form as the egg donor or sperm donor.
End of the storage period
It is important to keep in touch with your clinic. They will contact you six months before any sperm, eggs or embryos reach the end of their storage period. It is vital that you let them know if your contact details change.
Storing for up to 10 years
If you wish to extend your storage period up to a total of 10 years then you can sign a form consenting to extending the storage limit.
Storing for longer than 10 years
If you wish to extend your storage period beyond 10 years then you can sign a form consenting to extending the storage limit but you or the person to whom your gametes or embryos have been allocated must meet medical criteria.
End of storage limits
If your storage period limit is up and you have not consented to extending the storage limit or you or the person your gametes or embryo have been allocated to does not meet the criteria, the clinic is obliged to let any sperm, eggs or embryos to perish, even if they have not been able to trace you first. If they do not comply with this, they risk losing their HFEA licence.
Page last updated: 30 March 2009