Women may soon be able to freeze their eggs for decades

The government have launched a review of the existing 10 year storage limit

Words by Sophie Winfield

A controversial time limit that means women can only keep their frozen eggs for 10 years could soon be overturned.

The government have launched a review of the UK’s existing maximum storage period of 10 years, due to concerns that increasingly more women feel pressured to start a family ‘too early’.

Currently, eggs can only be kept for 10 years before they must either be used for fertility treatment or destroyed. The only exceptions are for cancer patients and prematurely infertile women, who can keep their eggs for up to 55 years.

A woman has a better chance of a healthy pregnancy if she freezes her eggs in her twenties. But many women are put off by the 10 year limit, as in 2016 the average age for those actually opting to do IVF was 38.

The number of men and women choosing to freeze their sperm and eggs for non-medical reasons has skyrocketed. Between 2012 and 2017, egg freezing cycles increased by 257% from 410 to 1,462, due to more people wanting to have children in the future but not being coupled up.

Speaking of the pressure that our current freezing limit puts on women, the Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage said: ”I am particularly concerned by the impact of the current law on women’s reproductive choices. A time limit can often mean women are faced with the heartbreaking decision to destroy their frozen eggs, or feel pressured to have a child before they are ready’.

Also discussing the need for more flexibility for women to reflect modern times, Sally Cheshire, chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority commented, ‘While any change to the 10-year storage limit would be a matter for Parliament as it requires a change in law, we believe the time is right to consider what a more appropriate storage limit could be that recognises both changes in science and in the way women are considering their fertility’.

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