9 months later, the waiting period for women continues

Single women and women couples can now benefit from assisted reproduction in the same way as women in a heterosexual couple. In fact, things are not so simple nine months after the law was promulgated.

“I have been offered a time on November 27, 2023.” Adeline is 35 years old and has wanted to have a child for several years. It was also a project she shared with her former companion. But after her couple’s failure, the 30-year-old decides to turn to a PMA solo – they’re officially open to single women and couples of women since the Bioethics Act of 2. August 2021

“I had disappointments in love with the male sex, and today I tell myself that I have my whole life to meet a man, but not to have a child,” she explains to BFMTV.com. “As soon as the law was passed, I wanted to make an appointment. But when I called, no one knew, the protocols were not open, they did not know how to proceed.”

“I called back in December, they offered me a first date in two years.”

Which at best would have meant an initial insemination around the spring of 2024. Delays that she considers “too long”. “I will then be 37 years old. If it is, because of my age I will have to do in vitro fertilization (IVF)”, worries the young woman who lives in Isère.

Adeline then goes to another MAP center (for “medically assisted reproduction”, a term that is included in bioethical law, although MAP is more common). He was offered a first date in late August. If his case is validated, the insemination can take place within six months, he is assured.

“The years go by and I can not imagine my life without children,” says Adeline. “It would be a life mistake for me not to be a mother.”

One to two years waiting time

Officially, all women, regardless of marital status, can now benefit from assisted reproduction up to the age of 45. Different techniques are suggested depending on the situation: artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, with or without oocyte donation. Cecos – the Center for the Study and Preservation of Eggs and Human Semen – manages egg and sperm donations. France has 31 of them located in university hospitals.

The process starts in principle with a request assessed by the medical team at an ART center. Then several interviews are organized, especially about “the motivation of the two members of the couple or the unmarried woman”. After the final interview, the applicant (s) will be given a reflection period of one month, and additional time may be deemed necessary “for the sake of the unborn child”.

A member of the Cecos team at Tenon Hospital in Paris is performing a medically assisted reproductive process (PMA) on September 24, 2019.
A member of the Cecos team at Tenon Hospital in Paris is conducting a process with a medically assisted reproductive process (PMA) on September 24, 2019. © Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

The government had announced that it wanted to reduce waiting times from one year to six months thanks to a new investment of 8 million euros. But in fact, as the example with Adeline shows, it is often necessary to wait several months before landing the first appointment, then again several months for the following ones. And since the decree of 28 September 2021, which effectively opens the PMA to all women, these deadlines have been further extended.

If the first IVFs for female couples were completed at the end of last year, for example in Nancy, Sandrine Trichard, co-founder of Matrikas – an association that has fought for PMA for all – believes that these few announcements do not reflect reality .

“It depends on the centers, but in some, especially those that receive a lot of inquiries, between the moment you take your phone to make the first appointment and the moment you finally benefit from insemination or IVF, it can happen more than one year, even two, ”she points out to BFMTV.com, sometimes more depending on the centers.

“The right to be listed”

Sandrine Trichard thus believes that with the opening of the PMA for all women, the latter has “earned the right to be placed on a waiting list”. Which is all the more difficult to live with as “every month counts”, the co-founder of Matrikas continues. “A year, a year and a half before you hope to get pregnant, it’s a long time, not to mention the fertility that decreases with age (it decreases from the age of 35, editor’s note).”

And not to mention that “when you enter a PMA course, you know that the chances of success are low”.

According to data from the Danish Biomedicine Agency, the success rate – that is, the percentage that results in the birth of a child – for intrauterine insemination with sperm donation is 19.6%. For IVF, it is 19.8% – 21.3% with egg donation.

Mélodie and her partner, who live in the Nordic countries, have therefore decided to look abroad to reduce the delays. “In February, we wanted to make an appointment, but they could not give us a date, they only dealt with inquiries made until December,” she told BFMTV.com.

Concerned, the young 34-year-old woman then contacted a clinic in Belgium on the advice of her gynecologist. A month later, he gets a deal with a list of studies to be carried out, for a total of 2200 euros. “We took out a loan,” explains Mélodie. But the approach promises to be effective: his first insemination took place in mid-April. It’s less than two months after his first phone call.

“When I told it to my sister, she was hallucinating,” Mélodie says. “She herself benefited from a PMA in France to get pregnant with her spouse, but she had to wait two years.”

“Some women can not wait”

For Catherine Clavin, co-president of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents and Future Parents (APGL), France is still far from the level of its European neighbors. “In Belgium, Spain or the Netherlands, everything is clearer, simpler,” she says. “There are no deadlines, and on the first date, everything falls into place within three months. Some women can’t wait.”

This is evidenced by Jade Lorenzo, the creator of the Facebook group “PMA talk to me about love”, mother of a first child born ten years ago by PMA and again on her way to becoming pregnant with another child.

“PMA, in France, is the obstacle course, it requires a mentality of steel,” she laments to BFMTV.com.

The hands of a pregnant woman on her belly (photo illustration)
The hands of a pregnant woman on her belly (photo illustration) © Anthony WALLACE © 2019 AFP

This 35-year-old young woman living in Montpellier suffers from pathologies that affect her fertility. If she still has the opportunity to enjoy one last IVF in France, she and her husband have decided to try their luck abroad. Jade Lorenzo thus notes that the doctors in Spain immediately prescribed her certain examinations which their French colleagues had only carried out after four abortions and eight implant defects.

“In all, I have accumulated thirteen years of experience. And in thirteen years I have seen conditions worsen. All excuses are good for failing women, it becomes slaughter. France is ten years behind the stranger.”

Gynecologist and reproductive doctor at the La Sagesse reciprocity clinic in Rennes, Anne Guivarc’h-Lévêque, already accompanied couples of women and single women in their procedures abroad. She is now overflowing with appointments. “We are three doctors in my office,” she explains to BFMTV.com. “Since the new law, we receive an average of forty requests a month.”

“We had to limit ourselves to one new patient per week and per doctor so as not to embolize the system.”

For Anne Guivarc’h-Lévêque, the requests for the opening of the PMA for all women have been largely underestimated by the authorities. “We expected 1,000 additional requests in 2021, we are already around 3,500,” the health minister’s entourage admitted in September. Last year, between 1 August and 15 October, 2,753 initial consultation requests were received by 25 of France’s Cecos – four times more than in the first half as a whole.

Among these new requests were about 1,071 female couples and 1,316 unmarried women in question, which is BFMTV.com’s Claire de Vienne, an associate physician in medically assisted reproduction at the Biomedicine Agency. This means that almost 90% of the requests concerned the new profiles of women approved by law.

“There is a very large increase in activity, it is unheard of in ART. The centers have to adapt and adapt to this demand knowing that these are activities that take a lot of time.”

Claire de Vienne would like to be reassuring, it is “a period of transition”. And according to this representative of the National Board of Biomedicine, the problem does not come from gamete reserves. “The stock is there,” she maintains. “As of August 1, 2021, we had 87,926 straws (of semen, editor’s note).” This is less the case for oocytes: around 4,000 applicants are currently on the waiting list.

A member of the Cecos team - the medically assisted reproductive unit (PMA) at Tenon Hospital in Paris, is handling a cold storage tool, September 24, 2019.
A member of the Cecos team – the medically assisted reproductive unit (PMA) at Tenon Hospital in Paris, handles a cold storage tool, September 24, 2019. © Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

The issue of abolishing anonymity

But from September 1, the cessation of donor anonymity will take effect. The Bioethics Act actually allows children born of PMA, after their majority, to access their origin, and therefore to the identity of their donors, which could deter some people. Not to mention that the gametes of people who have already donated but who refuse to have their anonymity revoked should be destroyed, raising fears of shortage.

Which alarms Manon, a daycare professional. This young woman of 26, from Albi, took steps at the beginning of the year to take advantage of a PMA. Only. Manon calls herself aromatic – a term that denotes people who do not fall in love – and asexual – she does not feel physical attraction to anyone, man or woman, and has never had a sexual relationship.

“They told me that in order to benefit from a gamete donation, you would have to wait an average of three to six months after validating the file,” she explains to BFMTV.com. “But with the abolition of anonymity, they told me that the deadlines risked being extended without being able to tell me how long exactly.” Unthinkable for her to miss her life project.

“I never felt a desire for anyone, I knew that pretty early on,” Manon recalls. “But having a baby, I’ve been dreaming about it all my life. I’ve actually been waiting for it for a long time.”

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