Leading doctors are backing calls for extending the time women can freeze their eggs.
Egg freezing – where a woman’s eggs are extracted and frozen immediately for fertilisation at a later date – is growing in popularity, with some celebrities opening up about undergoing the procedure, including Olivia Munn, Celine Dion, Sofia Vergara and Rita Ora.
Currently, the storage period is a maximum of 10 years, after which people must decide whether to undergo fertility treatment or have their eggs, sperm and embryos destroyed, but now a new paper from the Royal College of Obstetricians (RCOG) says frozen eggs can be stored indefinitely and won’t deteriorate.
Experts from the RCOG and The British Fertility Society (BFS) say the current Government limit may encourage women to defer freezing their eggs until later in life (by which time, generally speaking, the egg quality may not be as good).
Women and couples opt to freeze eggs for all sorts of reasons
Some choose to for medical reasons, like premature menopause or before they undergo cancer treatment (although in these cases, eggs can be preserved up to the age of 55), others because they haven’t met the right person to start a family with yet but want to keep their options open for the future, or because they simply don’t feel ready for children yet.
RCOG spokesman and professor of reproductive medicine and surgery, Adam Balen, says the 10-year limit is not fit for purpose, because it means women are “forced to initiate a pregnancy they may not be ready for, or have their eggs destroyed”.
So what do you need to know if your’e considering putting your eggs on ice?
What is egg freezing in a nutshell?
Gynaecologist and fertility expert, Dr Larisa Corda, explains it’s a “means of helping preserve fertility for the future”. Freezing the eggs at the point of extraction means they avoid the decline in quality that’s associated with ageing.
“It essentially means that a woman becomes her own egg donor later in life, when she decides she wishes to have children,” she says.