A study presented at the annual American Society of Reproductive Medicine conference, which looked into the psychological motivations of women choosing to freeze their eggs for social reasons, showed that 40 per cent were prepared to be single mothers using their frozen eggs. Study leader Alan Copperman, of Reproductive Medicine Associates in New York, said that for the participants, 'cryo-preservation meant the freedom to wait, and to not settle for a mate because they were in a rush to conceive'. Just 20 per cent of the 20 women in the study said they would not consider having them fertilised with donor sperm, if they failed to find a suitable partner in time.
Last month, fertility experts gave a lecture at a British Fertility Society conference recommending women over 35 to consider freezing their eggs. Other fertility experts hit back, saying women should not be encouraged to freeze their eggs for 'social reasons' and the procedure, being in its infancy, still has a poor success rate.
In related news from the conference, a US fertility specialist said that the UK should consider paying women to donate eggs for use in fertility treatments. David Adamson, president elect of the ASRM, said that current payments in Britain were inadequate. He told delegates that an increased amount of compensation would make more people want to donate eggs, adding 'I don't know if it's the best tool, but it's definitely a tool, it needs to be looked at'. In the US, clinics pay women up to $10,000 per cycle of egg donation, and few centres have waiting lists for treatment with donated eggs. More than twice the number of IVF treatment cycles using donated eggs are carried per head in the US, compared to the number carried out in the UK.
Last October, the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) published the results of its sperm, egg and embryo donation (SEED) review, which included a survey of UK clinics and a review of current scientific and clinical evidence in this area. The report concluded that sperm and egg donors may be compensated for loss of earnings up to a maximum of £250 for each 'course' of sperm donation, or each cycle of egg donation. Before that, egg and sperm donors both received £15, plus 'reasonable expenses'.
The report rejected one option set out in its consultation document, which would have allowed egg donors to be paid a maximum of £1000. However, it did conclude that 'egg sharing' - in which women donate some of their eggs in return for subsidised or free fertility treatment - should be permitted. HFEA spokesman John Paul Maytum told the Times newspaper last week that the authority had no plans to review the limit.