A UK ethics body, Nuffield Council on Bioethics, is claiming that the current ten-year limit on storing frozen eggs in the UK is arbitrary. And this is being used by some companies to pressurise women into making decisions about their fertility.
Why the ten-year limit?
The ten-year limit only applies to those women who have chosen to have their eggs frozen privately, for personal reasons. Eggs frozen by the NHS can be stored for up to 55 years. But the NHS will only fund egg freezing for medical reasons, such as for women about to undergo cancer treatment.
According to Nuffield, there are very few arguments against increasing the limit on “social” egg storing. The council claims that doing so would allow women to make a more informed decision about when to have a baby.
How does ‘social’ egg freezing work?
‘Social’ egg freezing really refers to the most common form of egg freezing. Women can freeze their eggs privately to allow them more time to think about starting a family.
Whilst this process gives women more freedom in terms of their careers and relationships, Nuffield claims that some less reputable fertility clinics have been using the ten-year limit to their advantage. Preying on anxious women with online advertising and alcohol-fueled marketing events.
And it’s not just fertility clinics taking advantage of social egg freezing. Some companies are offering their female employees egg freezing as part of an employment benefit package. Some see this as a way of providing more gender equality in the workplace. However, others claim it is putting pressure on women to delay motherhood in order to focus on their career.
How effective is egg freezing?
According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology authority, about one in five IVF treatments using a patient’s own frozen eggs, results in a live birth. That’s compared to around one in four generally for IVF treatment.
However, it’s important to note that eggs harvested from women under 35 are much more likely to ‘take’ then those from women aged 35 and over. And this is the main concern of the ethics body. Clinics are using the ten-year limit to put pressure on women. To freeze their eggs, without providing them with all the facts.
What are the chances of the ten year rule being changed?
The government is currently assessing the ten-year rule, but there is no indication of when any change would come into effect.
If you are considering egg freezing for personal reasons, it is important to be fully informed of all the advantages and disadvantages of the process.