The UK government has announced plans to extend the time a woman can freeze her eggs from ten to a maximum of 55 years
The change in the law is to come after lobbying by fertility campaigners and experts to extend the term, which has long been felt as restrictive.
It is primarily aimed at giving people more choice on when they might start a family and remove associated pressures from the biological clock.
It comes after research carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians found that freezing eggs using modern techniques can be indefinitely stored and do not deteriorate.
Health and Social Care secretary Sajid Javid said the current law makes the timescale ‘restrictive for those making a decision about starting a family’.
He said: “The current storage arrangements can be severely restrictive for those making the important decision about when to start a family, and this new legislation will help turn off the ticking clock in the back of people’s minds.
There is any number of reasons why someone may choose to preserve their fertility, and it is one of the most personal decisions any of us can make. Technological breakthroughs – including in egg freezing – have changed the equation in recent years and it’s only right that this progress puts more power into the hands of potential parents.
“By making these changes, we are going to take a huge step forwards – not just for giving people greater freedom over their fertility, but for equality too.”
Under the new system, prospective parents will be given the option at 10-year intervals to keep or dispose of frozen eggs, sperm and embryos
This update not only ensures greater reproductive choice and less pressured decision-making for parents thinking about when to start a family, but it will also ensure greater equality as the same rules will apply to everyone, and storage limits will not be dictated by medical needs.
Julia Chain, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Chair, said: “We welcome the government’s plans to extend the storage limit for frozen eggs, sperm, and embryos, bringing the law in line with advances in science, changes in modern society and individuals’ reproductive choices.
“This is great news for patients, giving them more time to make important decisions about family planning.
Any decision to store or preserve eggs, sperm, or embryos is a serious one and anyone considering this must be given full information on the procedures involved, including the best time to freeze and the likelihood of successfully using them to have a baby in the future.
“It is important that the new rules are clear and that fertility clinics are given adequate time to update their procedures to ensure they can both implement the changes effectively and give patients sufficient information so that they are fully informed about their options.”
Do these changes affect you? Have you recently frozen your eggs? We’d love to hear your story, email email@example.com.