Should I freeze my eggs?
There has been lots of debate about egg-freezing. Companies like Apple and Facebook have been reported to offer fertility benefits including egg freezing as a perk to female employees. With the average age of first-time mothers in the UK now reaching 30 and rising, women are increasingly reminded not to be overly optimistic about getting pregnant in their late 30s and 40s.
Recent media coverage has shined a light on fertility treatment practices at UK clinics, including 'add-ons', egg-sharing, egg freezing and reporting of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). There has also been recent television coverage about egg freezing by the likes of Gemma Collins in The Only Way is Essex.
Egg freezing is an option for those trying to preserve their fertility or delay parenthood. However, egg freezing does not guarantee a baby. Eggs must survive the thawing process, fertilisation, and implantation. A viable pregnancy must then ensue. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) issued the following statement on 2 May 2017:
“Egg freezing has become more widely available over recent years, though the numbers are still too low for us to publish clinic-by-clinic data. Our latest national data on egg freezing shows that the pregnancy rate is around 22%, but this is for women of all age groups and is likely to include eggs frozen using older techniques. We require clinics to give an accurate prediction of the chance of success from any fertility treatment and we check patient information on inspection.”
Why freeze my eggs?
You may want to consider freezing eggs if:
- You have a medical condition or need treatment that may affect your fertility (e.g. chemotherapy treatment).
- You are at risk of injury or death
- You wish to delay parenthood (e.g. you are not ready to start a family)
Egg freezing is not for the faint-hearted. Egg freezing can produce a wealth of personal medical information. It can test and evaluate a woman's reproductive system and the quality and number of her eggs. It involves blood tests, medical screening and daily medication to stimulate the ovaries. You will then need to undergo egg retrieval, usually done under light sedation.
How much does it cost?
Egg freezing is not cheap. Egg freezing can cost upwards of £4,000 per cycle including medication and storage costs. Further costs will be incurred when eggs are thawed and subsequently used in fertility treatment.
It is a big step to commit to expensive fertility treatment like egg freezing. The average full time income for women in the UK is £25,107 per annum (£30,236 for men). House prices have risen by over 20% in the last decade. The average first-time deposit last year was £34,000, rising to £97,000 in London. The decision to embark on fertility treatment and egg freezing is not to be taken lightly.
How long can I freeze my eggs for?
Eggs can be frozen for up to 10 years. If you or your partner is prematurely infertile or likely to become prematurely infertile, you can store frozen eggs up to age 55 if certified by a medical practitioner. Egg quality and numbers decline with age, with women's fertility rates declining rapidly from age 35. You should therefore think carefully about when to freeze eggs and obtain specialist medical advice.
Should I invest in specialist legal advice?
As a fertility patient you will need to understand and make decisions about a range of legal and practical issues including disclosure of information, the use and storage of eggs, sperm and embryos, the legal status of yourself (and any partner), your rights and responsibilities if you or another person involved in your prospective family building or treatment has a change of heart or things don't go to plan.
A range of consent forms will need to be completed before your treatment takes place at a UK licensed fertility clinic. This is not just a form filling exercise. It is important to take time and care in completing these forms. You should obtain expert legal advice so you understand the legal issues, implications and outcomes in your situation and your wishes are accurately reflected in the consent you give. Specialist legal advice is an important safeguard in the fertility treatment process. Click here for more information about giving informed consent to fertility treatment.
The right fertility lawyer can add immeasurable value. Fertility preservation, maximisation and family building is not just a process to achieve a much wanted child, but a journey from the moment you decide to embark on treatment and try for a family. Working with the right fertility lawyer can add immeasurable warmth, peace of mind, professionalism, confidence and comfort in what can feel like a rollercoaster ride to parenthood. This helps strike the right balance taking into account emotional, financial, lifestyle and other personal issues which are important to you. The right fertility lawyer can be a protective sounding board and a personal confidant. Click here for more information about investing in specialist fertility law advice.
If you would like to discuss your situation in more detail or find out more about UK fertility, family and parenting law contact Louisa Ghevaert by email: Louisa.firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone +44 (0)207 7886382.