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Leading medics back egg freezing extension

Emma Lamb

02 March 2020

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Professional medical bodies are calling for the UK law on the storage limit for frozen eggs to be extended, to provide women with more choice in their reproductive years.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and British Fertility Society (BFS) have responded to the consultation launched by the Department for Health on 11 February 2020 on whether the UK's maximum storage periods for eggs, sperm and embryos should be reviewed. 

The RCOG and BFS join Parliamentarians and other groups calling for an extension of the current ten-year limit on the storage of eggs for non-medical purposes.

According to the RCOG and BFS, 'the UK legislation is no longer fit for purpose and severely restricts women who make the decision to freeze their eggs and preserve their fertility.'

They stated that the current ten-year limit may encourage women to defer freezing her eggs until later in life, when the quality of the eggs will have deteriorated. The success of egg freezing is also strongly dependent on the age of the woman at the time of freezing, where rates are higher for those aged 35 or below. 

The statement drew on a RCOG Scientific Impact Paper published on the same day, that concludes that eggs frozen using the vitrification technique can be stored indefinitely without deterioration, unlike the previous slow-freezing method. Prior limitations underpinning the rationale for the original legislation are no longer relevant. 

Dr Jane Stewart, chair of the BFS, said 'As a sector, we want to offer all the support we can to our patients. Family planning is changing and many people choose to have children later in life. We wish to ensure that those who want to have a baby have the best possible chance of success.'

In the statement, the RCOG and BFS also stressed the need for women to be given information about these success rates. This is particularly important as elective egg freezing is only available privately, normally with significant financial costs involved.

The Government will use responses to the consultation to inform decisions about whether and how the legislation should be updated. The closing date is 5 May 2020.

SOURCES & REFERENCES

Elective egg freezing for non‐medical reasons
BJOC |  26 February 2020
Leading doctors back egg freezing extension
ITV News |  27 February 2020
UK law on storage limit for egg freezing is too restrictive, say RCOG and BFS
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists |  27 February 2020

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Date Added: 02 March 2020   Date Updated: 02 March 2020
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