The report, by the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority), looked at data from UK fertility clinics between 2010-2016. It concluded that women should freeze their eggs before the age of 35 for the chance of conception with IVF to be higher than the chance of natural conception as they get older.
The average age of women currently freezing their eggs for treatment is 38, with some women freezing into their late 40s, when the success of their future treatment using the eggs is near negligible. The age of the woman at the time of thawing the eggs has little to no impact on the chance of success.
'Egg freezing in the right circumstances can achieve a high chance of a live birth, not dissimilar to conventional IVF. […] The HFEA data compares very well with the national average after conventional IVF in women under 35,' said Dr Simon Fishel, president of the private CARE Fertility Group.
The report found 81 percent of all egg freezing cycles to be privately-funded. NHS clinics have strict policies on egg-freezing; they tend to have a younger cut-off age for permitting the treatment and only fund freezing for women who are storing the eggs for medical reasons, such as fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment. However, private clinics treat women freezing eggs for social reasons and theoretically can accept any self-funded patients at their own discretion.
The HFEA wants clinics to emphasise to older women considering freezing their eggs that it may not be the best course of treatment for them to take as their chances of success are 'very slim'.
When considering that the complete cost of an egg freezing cycle including the initial freeze, storage fees and future treatment using the thawed eggs is approximately £7000-8000, it is vital that women over 35 should be well-counselled on the costs alongside the low success rates of treatment.
'The chances of having a baby from egg-freezing in a woman's late forties are very slim and clinics need to be clear that they are acting in a responsible manner,' said Professor Richard Anderson, at the University of Edinburgh.
'It is difficult to see how someone freezing their eggs close to their 50th birthday is advisable, and it is absolutely essential that women doing so have full knowledge of the likely success rates.'
Egg freezing cycles are relatively rare: they comprised approximately 1.5 percent of all IVF treatment cycles conducted.