According to fertility experts, U.K. demand for egg freezing has increased by 407 percent in the last 12 months. Additionally, enquiries at private clinics have doubled, and the age of women seeking fertility treatment is falling.
A report from clinic comparison website WhatClinic.com reveals that 43 percent of users searching for egg freezing in the last 12 months were between the ages of 25 and 34, and 12.8 percent were aged between 18 and 24.
Egg freezing is offered to those women undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or going through premature menopause, as well as to those who object to storing embryos for religious or moral reasons.
But there are also a growing number of women who are freezing eggs in their 20s and 30s so they can have IVF after they have established a career or found a suitable partner to have a child with.
If you’re thinking about freezing your eggs, here’s what you need to know
1. Egg freezing doesn’t come cheap. Private clinics typically charge £5,000 to £6,000 to remove the eggs, £250 a year to store them and up to £6,000 for them to be re-implanted at a later time.
2. The procedure involves giving the patient high doses of ovary-stimulating hormones in order to produce large numbers of eggs, as in routine IVF. Only mature eggs (those which have developed to a certain stage) are suitable for freezing.
3. Eggs can then be stored for up to 10 years in liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees centigrade.
4. The practice of egg freezing for social (rather than health) reasons is still relatively new, meaning the outcomes are untested. As there are only a small number of cases in which women have had their eggs thawed then fertilised for pregnancy, it’s extremely difficult to predict the success rate. However, a study in Italy (where embryo freezing was banned for many years) suggests that success rates in IVF using frozen-thawed eggs are just as good as those using fresh eggs.
5. The NHS can fund egg freezing, but only three rounds may be offered to women under the age of 40, and the number of cycles offered varies greatly depending on region. Women who wish to freeze their eggs for social reasons must pay privately.
6. Between 1991 and 2012, 21 babies were born in the U.K. as a result of 253 fertility cycles using frozen eggs.
7. By the age of 40, a woman’s likelihood of undergoing successful IVF treatment is the same as the chance of her falling pregnant naturally.