Sharon has always wanted to be a mum. Two years ago, aged 33, after a lot of deliberation, knowing her fertility was declining and would continue to do so, she decided to invest in her fertility and froze her eggs. Sharon hoped it would buy her time.
However, under current UK law, because Sharon froze her eggs for social (non-medical) reasons she can only keep them stored for 10 years. If she doesn’t use them in the next eight years, they will be destroyed.
‘I know egg freezing is not a guarantee of a baby,’ Sharon said, ‘but if I want to use my frozen eggs when I am in my 40's, I should be able to do so. They may be my best or only chance of becoming a mum. My eggs are my genetic material; surely this is my reproductive choice?’
Women face so many pressures in deciding when to start a family. Social egg freezing should be empowering women to choose when to begin a family, not imposing additional limits.
Egg freezing is the fastest growing fertility treatment in the UK – it’s more than tripled in the last 5 years, yet increasing numbers of women are facing the stark choice of having to destroy their frozen eggs or be pushed into becoming a mother before they are ready to do so, either with a partner or, if single, as a solo mum via sperm donation.
Other women, like Sharon, are delaying freezing their eggs until they are older, despite female fertility being at its peak when you are in your twenties. Sharon first considered freezing her eggs when she was 28, when her eggs were at their best, but she was put off because of the 10-year storage limit. In the UK, most women (66%) who freeze their eggs are over 35, the age at which female fertility begins to decline sharply.
In these difficult times, fertility and genomics charity Progress Educational Trust (PET) is calling on the UK government to show compassion, extend the 10-year social egg freezing storage limit and give women who have frozen their eggs the choice about when to use them. PET believes the current UK law on social egg freezing:
· damages women’s chances of becoming biological mothers,
· is outdated and unscientific because new egg freezing technology means eggs can be stored and used for longer than 10 years, and
· discriminates against women because female fertility begins to fall in a woman’s late twenties, before dropping steeply after 35. Please sign our online petition at https://www.change.org/extendthelimit to change the 10-year storage limit on social egg freezing. Women deserve reproductive choice.
As well as signing the petition, you can support PET’s campaign by encouraging others to sign and share the petition too.
If you are affected by these issues, you can find out more information about PET’s #ExtendTheLimit campaign to help others to be mothers here.
You can also respond to the government’s public consultation on social egg freezing at http://bit.ly/2uAMxYQ This consultation closes on 5 May 2020.