A key issue that has been in the spotlight recently is the need for legislative change regarding the time limit in relation to women storing their eggs for the purposes of fertility treatment in the future.
More and more women are choosing to preserve their fertility by freezing their eggs. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which is the body that regulates fertility treatment in the UK, confirmed that the amount of egg freezing cycles completed in the UK in 2017 increased by 10% since 2016. This is what is referred to a “social egg-freezing” as opposed to a woman needing to freeze her eggs for medical reasons, for example, prior to undergoing treatment for cancer.
Whereas a woman who freezes her eggs for medical reasons is permitted to store them for up to a maximum of 55 years, a woman who undergoes social egg-freezing is only permitted to store them for 10 years. Experts have highlighted that there is no scientific reason for the storage limit and that in practice it could actually deter women from freezing their eggs in their 20s, when that is the optimal time.
The fertility and genetics charity the Progress Educational Trust has launched an #ExtendTheLimit campaign calling for the government to change the law and extend the storage limit. The charity hopes that the government will take notice of their campaign which, if successful, will give women more options when it comes to starting a family.
Should a 28-year-old woman freeze her eggs, those eggs will need to be used or destroyed by the time she is 38, which is potentially right when she may need them the most,” she explained. “Women can currently use donor eggs to conceive with no legal age limit in the UK on this procedure (although many clinics will not provide the treatment to women over 50).