Egg freezing is a method of preserving a woman’s fertility so she may try and have children in the future.
The current maximum storage period for frozen gametes (eggs and sperm) is ten years, although women at risk of becoming prematurely infertile (through medical treatments such as chemotherapy) are able to store their eggs for up to fifty-five years if specific authorisation is received. However, a new bill has been presented to the House of Lords that aims to extend the standard ten year time limit on egg freezing.
This new ‘Storage Period for Gametes Bill’ was introduced by Baroness Ruth Deech QC, a former chair of the fertility regulator of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. It asks for a review by the Secretary of State of the regulations governing gamete storage periods. The new campaign calls for the 2009 regulations to be changed so that gametes can be kept for more than ten years if a person has not completed their family.
The limit is a growing concern as egg-freezing technology has now been around for nearly a decade, meaning that more and more women are reaching the end of their storage period. This means that if the time is still not right for these women to have a baby, they have some very difficult decisions ahead.
A woman who freezes her eggs at 25 years old would have to use or destroy them at 35, ready or not, under the current regulations.
‘Numerous women now and many more in the future face the destruction of their frozen eggs, and their chances of becoming mothers, simply because of an arbitrary ten-year limit on storage. This bill is asking for a speedy review of that limit,’ said Baroness Deech. ‘Will the government show compassion, move to support these women’s human rights and give them hope?’