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COVID-19 leads to more women freezing their eggs

19 October 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1068

The number of women considering freezing their eggs has increased, and it may be due to the COVID-19 pandemic…

Fertility clinics have seen a sharp rise in the number of women inquiring about egg freezing – up to 50 percent more inquiries at some clinics. They have reported that for many of these women, the lockdown has triggered a period of reflection over their parental future, particularly given that opportunities to meet a partner have been greatly reduced. 

Kate Davidson from Cheltenham, who is 35 and single, told the Sunday Times: 'A big part of me wanted to do it because I wanted to share my eggs... But I also like the fact that I've got some put away for me now. I was quite reflective about work, life – all those things. I think that's what prompted me to make the move.' 

'The whole way in which we socialise and date has changed... if I don't meet the man of my dreams until I'm 39, then at least I know I've got the eggs of a 33-year-old' said a woman named only as Katherine, in the same article. 'I just haven't met that person, and with the coronavirus, I felt that it was becoming harder. That was the trigger.'

Compared with last summer, both Create Fertility and The London Women's Clinic have seen consultations for egg freezing rise by 25 percent, while the King's Fertility and Harley Street Fertility Clinics reported rises of 15 and 20 percent respectively. 

'Social' egg freezing refers to patients who choose to preserve their fertility for lifestyle rather than medical reasons and is only available privately at an average cost of £3350. A recent report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority showed that the number of women opting to freeze their eggs or embryos in the UK rose 523 per cent between 2013 and 2018. 

Professor Joyce Harper, professor of reproductive science at University College London, said: 'The majority of women who freeze their eggs... are single. When they've been asked, most of them want to have children now, they just haven't met Mr Right or haven't got a partner who is happy to have children.' 

Currently, UK law prevents eggs frozen for non-medical reasons to remain in storage for more than ten years. A recent report from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics joined other voices in the field in calling for this limit to be removed (see BioNews 1066).  

Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust, the charity which publishes BioNews, said 'With more women than ever choosing to freeze their eggs, it is time for the law to be changed'. 

Women rush to freeze eggs as coronavirus lockdown dries up dating
The Sunday Times |  11 October 2020
Women rush to freeze their eggs in fertility 'insurance policies' as lockdown slashes chances of meeting Mr Right
Daily Mail |  11 October 2020
14 December 2020 - by BioNews 
This film documents a Progress Educational Trust event about how best to support patients in light of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, and the related disruption of fertility treatment...
7 December 2020 - by Dr Laura Riggall 
A baby girl has been born from a record-breaking 27-year-old frozen embryo...
2 November 2020 - by Sarah Norcross 
As England prepares to enter another lockdown, which is expected to last for at least a month, PET is holding a free-to-attend online event exploring what lockdowns mean for fertility patients...
26 October 2020 - by Dr John B Appleby 
The UK's current law allows human eggs frozen for social reasons to be stored for a maximum of ten years. There are important arguments against this current limit...
5 October 2020 - by Kate Harvey 
Egg freezing is becoming more common in the UK, with a growing number of women deciding to freeze their eggs each year and, outside the UK, some even suggest that the technology has gone mainstream...
5 October 2020 - by Dr Helen Robertson 
The ten-year limit on storing women's eggs frozen for non-medical reasons should be extended, according to the UK's leading bioethics body...
27 April 2020 - by Sarah Norcross 
We welcome the UK government's two-year extension to the legal limit on the storage of eggs, sperm and embryos, but more needs to be done for fertility patients during and after the coronavirus pandemic...
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