The UK government has announced* that the time limit on storage of frozen eggs, sperm and embryos will be raised from 10 years to a renewable 10 year limit capped at a maximum of 55 years.
Prof Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology, University of Sheffield, said:
“The current laws and regulations concerning the storage of sperm, eggs and embryos are illogical, confusing, and potentially discriminatory. They have required urgent reform for some time and, as such, I welcome today’s announcement. I implore the government to find enough parliamentary time to revise these laws as a matter of urgency.”
Sarah Norcross, Director, Progress Educational Trust (PET), said:
“PET is delighted that the government has listened to its calls to end the 10-year limit on ‘social’ egg freezing. Social egg freezing should empower women to choose the best time to start a family, not impose new limits on them. The government has recognised that there is no longer a scientific basis for this legal limit and that it does not protect patients – quite the opposite as it limits their options and creates more anxiety.
“This move is of huge significance for many women, not just those who have frozen their eggs, but women who may be considering doing so. Extending the 10-year storage limit on social egg freezing will enable women to exercise reproductive choice, freeing women from the constraints of an outdated, discriminatory and unscientific law, and the threat of having their eggs destroyed against their will or being forced to become a mother before they are ready to do so, either with a partner or via a sperm donor. It will also mean women don’t face the additional financial burden of funding the transfer of frozen eggs overseas and later fertility treatment abroad.
“Egg freezing is the fastest growing fertility treatment in the UK and so increasing numbers of women have been under pressure to use their eggs before they are ready to do so This government statement of intention to change the law by extending the 10-year social egg freezing limit to a maximum of 55 years will give women who have frozen their eggs more flexibility about when to use them.
“Women who were delaying freezing their eggs because they were concerned about not being able to use them within the time limit will now have the latitude to freeze their eggs earlier and when the eggs may be of better quality.
“Using present day technology eggs and sperm are as fit for purpose after 55 years on ice as they are after ten.
“PET’s campaign brought together professionals and patients in the call for change, and we are delighted that the government has seen fit to make the changes we have campaigned for.”
Dr Edward Morris, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said, said:
“We very much welcome the UK government’s move to increase the storage of eggs to a 10-year renewable period as it will give families and individuals more control over managing their fertility and more flexibility over when to start a family.
“Egg freezing allows women to have the chance to have children at a time that’s right for them. It is also for women going through therapies, such as chemotherapy, that may decrease their fertility but who still wish to have children. We know that women have better success rates when freezing their eggs at a younger age and this new legislation will enable them to freeze their eggs until the time is right for them.”