Professor claims egg-freezing companies are selling women a false dream
An Oxford professor has claimed that egg-freezing clinics are promising women over 35 a service that is unlikely to work due to lower fertility rates.
Professor Imogen Goold claims that women aged 36 to 39 who take up the service have just a 3%, or lower chance, of having a baby, and that egg-freezing companies are taking advantage of women’s desire to have children. The announcement came at the annual conference of Progress Educational Trust, a fertility charity. Goold stated:
“It’s the kind of market where [clinics are] preying on women being anxious and getting them to throw money at a problem… Obviously the commercial services who are offering it have a vested interest in telling [women] it works really well and that they need it.”
This statement has come after concerns around the rising numbers of women in this age group freezing their eggs. Figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have revealed that two-thirds of all those using the service in the UK are over 35. The service can prove extremely expensive ranging from £4,000 to £8,000, which does not include the costs of IVF treatment for the frozen egg which can also cost thousands more.
Goold advises that women who freeze eggs in their 20s or early 30s have a far higher success rate as this is when fertility is much higher.
Clare Ettinghausen, of the HFEA, claims that such companies should make their clients fully aware of the chances that using their services will result in a child as she said:
“More women than ever are choosing to freeze their eggs but the numbers are still very small and most do not go back to use their eggs over time. Women thinking about freezing their eggs should understand that it is not an insurance policy that can guarantee a baby in the future.
As fertility decreases in the mid-30s, fertility clinics must advise patients of the likelihood of success of freezing eggs after that.”
The HFEA have release data showing that alternatives to freezing their own eggs exists as the number of children born through a donor eggs are rising as birth rates for patients aged 43-50 increased from 5% when using their own eggs to over 30% when using donor eggs from 2018 to 2019. It was also revealed that that total sperm and egg donor registrations have more than doubled from under 1,000 a year in the early 1990s to more than 2,300 in 2019.
Julia Chain, Chair of the HFEA, said:
“Donating eggs or sperm has helped overcome heartache for thousands of people who not be able to conceive a child. Over time, fertility preservation and treatment techniques have dramatically improved and this, along with changing social attitudes, has led to the birth of over 70,000 donor conceived children since 1991.
Younger patients typically use donors for medical reasons such as infertility or to prevent passing down genetic diseases. Meanwhile for older patients, using a donor can increase their chance of having a baby; this is because a woman’s fertility declines with age, particularly from their mid-30s. A rise in same sex and single people accessing treatment has also led to more treatment involving donors.”