Fertility experts call for end of UK's 10-year limit on egg-freezing
Fertility experts have urged the government to overturn “discriminatory” fertility rules that require women who freeze their eggs to use them within 10 years.
Beyond this limit, clinics are compelled to destroy the eggs even if this goes against the woman’s wishes. The only exception is for women who are prematurely infertile.
During the past decade, thousands of women have paid to freeze their eggs, normally because they want children in the future but are not in a long-term relationship. However, an increasing number are having to decide between losing their chance of having a baby, or fertilising their eggs using donor sperm.
Campaigners say the law has not kept up with technological progress, including an egg-freezing technique called vitrification that allows eggs to be stored almost indefinitely without deteriorating. The technique was introduced widely a decade ago, prompting a steep increase in “social” egg-freezing, which means an increasing number of women are affected by the 10-year limit.
Current legislation means that those who freeze their eggs or sperm due to premature infertility may have them preserved for 55 years. Clinics already have medical restrictions on the age at which women qualify to undergo IVF treatment.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) figures show the number of women in the UK opting to freeze their eggs has increased from fewer than 300 in 2010 to 1,300 in 2016. However, there were fewer than 200 thawing cycles each year until 2015, meaning that thousands of women have frozen eggs but have yet to use them.
The government has said an extension “would be a significant policy change”. A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act is considered a matter of conscience and therefore a free vote. The government has no plans to reconsider this legislation at this time.”
Read more at The Guardian