Fertility clinics have seen a sharp rise in the number of women inquiring about egg freezing – up to 50 percent more inquiries at some clinics.
They have reported that for many of these women, the lockdown has triggered a period of reflection over their parental future, particularly given that opportunities to meet a partner have been greatly reduced.
Kate Davidson from Cheltenham, who is 35 and single, told the Sunday Times: ‘A big part of me wanted to do it because I wanted to share my eggs… But I also like the fact that I’ve got some put away for me now. I was quite reflective about work, life – all those things. I think that’s what prompted me to make the move.’
‘The whole way in which we socialise and date has changed… if I don’t meet the man of my dreams until I’m 39, then at least I know I’ve got the eggs of a 33-year-old’ said a woman named only as Katherine, in the same article. ‘I just haven’t met that person, and with the coronavirus, I felt that it was becoming harder. That was the trigger.’
Compared with last summer, both Create Fertility and The London Women’s Clinic have seen consultations for egg freezing rise by 25 percent, while the King’s Fertility and Harley Street Fertility Clinics reported rises of 15 and 20 percent respectively.
‘Social’ egg freezing refers to patients who choose to preserve their fertility for lifestyle rather than medical reasons and is only available privately.
A recent report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority showed that the number of women opting to freeze their eggs or embryos in the UK rose 523 percent between 2013 and 2018.
Professor Joyce Harper, professor of reproductive science at University College London, said: ‘The majority of women who freeze their eggs… are single. When they’ve been asked, most of them want to have children now, they just haven’t met Mr Right or haven’t got a partner who is happy to have children.’
Currently, UK law prevents eggs frozen for non-medical reasons to remain in storage for more than ten years. A recent report from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics joined other voices in the field in calling for this limit to be removed.
Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust, said ‘With more women than ever choosing to freeze their eggs, it is time for the law to be changed’.