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Lift egg freezing limit, UK government told

Thursday February 27th, 2020

The UK should lift a ten-year limit on the use of frozen eggs to give women improved control over reproduction, two medical organisations say today.

The limit applies to eggs frozen for non-medical reasons – but the campaigners would like women to be able to store eggs at young ages for their future lives.

The use of vitrification means that eggs can be stored indefinitely without deterioration, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says.

Currently just 18% of IVF treatments that use a woman's own frozen eggs are successful. The Department of Health and Social Care has recently launched a consultation on extending the time limit.

The RCOG says the limit may discourage women from freezing eggs in their 20s rather than in their 30s. In 2016, some 1,310 women had eggs frozen – and 519 attempted pregnancy from frozen eggs.

Professor Richard Anderson, from Edinburgh University, who has written a report for the RCOG, said: “Egg freezing provides women who are not in a position to start their family an opportunity to mitigate their decline in fertility with increasing age.

“While often perceived as a form of insurance, we feel strongly that women undertaking egg freezing do so with a full understanding of the likelihood of success, as well as the costs and risks.

“Although the technology allows indefinite storage without deterioration, the current UK legal limit of ten years for duration of elective egg freezing has no biological or medical basis and is against the interests of women wishing to freeze eggs at a younger, more effective age."

Professor Adam Balen, from the college, said: “Currently, the ten-year limit is too restrictive and not fit for purpose because it means women are either forced to initiate a pregnancy they may not be ready for, or have their eggs destroyed."

Dr Jane Stewart, from the British Fertility Society, said: "The ten-year limit is arbitrary and can be extended for those people who froze eggs for medical reasons. There is no scientific or medical reason why eggs frozen for social reasons couldn’t be kept for longer too."

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/sip63

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | NHS | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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