The Regional Fertility Centre provides a range of other services to assist with the fertility process.
A semen analysis service
The Regional Andrology Service (RAS) is part of the Regional Fertility Centre (RFC) and provides a semen analysis service for patients across the province.
All patients must be referred for a semen analysis by a GP or other hospital outpatient centre.
If you are asked to have a semen test, we will carry a microscopic examination of the semen to see how many sperm are present and whether they function correctly. The results of this test will indicate whether or not a male factor is involved in your infertility and it aids in decisions about appropriate treatment.
Before your appointment, you will be sent instructions about producing the sample. To ensure an accurate analysis it is important that the sample is produced at the laboratory and a private and discrete room is available in the RFC for this purpose.
If you are referred by the Regional Fertility Centre doctor, you will be informed of the result at your next appointment.
If you are referred by your GP or a hospital outpatient clinic, the results will be sent to the doctor who referred you and they will arrange to give you the results of the test.
The Regional Fertility Centre offers a service where sperm samples are stored for patients who are about to undergo a treatment or procedure which may affect their fertility in the long term such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy or certain types of surgery.
If this service is required, the doctor supervising their treatment refers patients to the service. An appointment will be arranged for them to be seen quickly at the Regional Fertility Centre.
Before sperm samples are placed in storage, we must be sure that the patient does not carry HIV or hepatitis. Blood tests are carried out before the patient attends (this is arranged by the referring doctor). This ensures that everyone whose samples are placed in storage can be assured that their samples are being stored alongside only samples from other patients screened for such viruses. These sperm samples may be stored for up to fifty-five years.
On attending the clinic, the patient will meet with a doctor to explain the process and complete the necessary consent forms.
From each sample that is produced, we hope to be able to place several small sperm samples in storage. These can be held for future use.
At the time when the sample is stored, some patients name a partner with whom they intend to use the sperm: not everyone is in this position and we will still store samples for people without any current partner.
Any consent signed may be withdrawn or amended at any time should circumstances change.
It is important that such long term storage of sperm is seen as an insurance measure: we hope that fertility will not be affected however it is good to have the back up of stored samples should they be required.
For some people treatment with sperm, eggs or embryos donated by others is their only hope of achieving a pregnancy and ultimately a family.
Unfortunately, there is a shortage of egg and sperm donors in the UK and this can result in patients waiting a longer time before they can be treated.
Your donation of sperm to help a couple have a child is one of the most generous gifts anyone can give.
Donors feel a sense of pride, knowing the joy they have brought to people who could not have otherwise become parents.
If after reading this information about sperm donation you would like to consider becoming a donor, please contact:
Dr Deborah Lutton, Principal Embryologist
Regional Fertility Centre
Belfast HSC Trust
Belfast BT12 6BA
We will send you an information pack that includes information about being a sperm donor.
For more information about donating sperm visit the National Gamete Donation Trust website
Embryo & egg donation
For some women treatment, using eggs donates from others is the only treatment option available to them. Some women have become sterile due to surgery or chemotherapy treatment for cancer, some may have undergone an early menopause or have some other hormonal condition and some may carry a genetic condition which is passed on by females.
Egg donation may be by a known donor, such as a friend or a family member, or anonymously by someone wishing to donate eggs. Sadly we do not have a bank of donors but will advise and assist with recruitment of someone who may be able to help. Our Donation Coordinator will be happy to discuss this with you and may be contacted at 028 9063 5863 / OvumDonation@belfasttrust.hscni.net
For some couples who have both an egg and a sperm problem, treatment using embryos (fertilised eggs) from another couple may be the only appropriate treatment option for them.
A couple who have had treatment at the RFC and have stored embryos which they no longer intend to use in treatment, may consider donating embryos to another couple.
To find out more about donating eggs or embryos, or if you know you need donated eggs for treatment contact the Ovum Donor Co-ordinator, Alison McKee 028 9063 5863 / OvumDonation@belfasttrust.hscni.net
To find out more about egg or embryo donation visit the National Gamete Donation Trust website