Egg freezing is increasing as more women seek to preserve their fertility

According to a new report, record numbers of women are freezing their embryos in the hopes of starting a family later in life.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reported that more than 4,000 patients froze their eggs in 2021, up from 2,500 in 2019. According to a charity, the "dramatic rise" could be linked to the pandemic. However, physicians cautioned that greater awareness of the pros and cons was required.

Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust fertility charity, stated that during the lockdowns, some women had contemplated their fertility. She stated that restrictions on socializing may have prompted some women to ponder their fertile window and decide to increase their reproductive options.

According to the report, despite an increase in egg collections, fewer women have decided to donate their eggs for another woman to use. In 2019, there were nearly 1,500 new egg donors, but in 2021, there were only 1,400.

Helen Henry, a resident of Thurrock, Essex, donated some of her eggs when she had them preserved ten years ago at the age of 34.

 At the time, she was in a committed relationship with a companion who did not want children. "I recall receiving counseling to explain why I wished to freeze my embryos and being offered the option to donate as well. I chose this option because I wasn't doing it solely for myself.After donating, I began to experience a great deal of guilt. I doubted that I had taken the correct action. What if the child's mother is not a decent person? What happens if the infant is placed in foster care? What if it is ignored? A few years later, I learned that a newborn girl was born in December 2011 as a result of my donation. She said that once she learned a child had been delivered, her guilt disappeared.

Ms. Henry went on to have kids of her own with a new partner, and she has since discarded her preserved eggs because she never used them. "I became pregnant quite quickly and naturally and gave birth to my first daughter at age 39; I am currently on maternity leave after giving birth to my son in December at age 44," she said.

Vicky Pattison, a TV host and podcaster who resides in Essex, has recently had some of her embryos frozen after deciding she is not yet ready to have children.

Three of her oocytes were fertilized with her partner's sperm, and she was informed that each embryo has a 20% chance of developing into a baby. She also kept three unfertilized embryos, which have a 10% chance of being fertilized. She expressed her sentiments throughout the treatment, stating that "there is not enough authentic, trustworthy information available."

According to the HFEA, success is significantly dependent on the age of the woman when her eggs are frozen, with higher success rates among women under 35. Bassel Wattar, an obstetrician and gynecologist consultant, stated that more effort was required to educate and support patients throughout their fertility journey.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of public awareness regarding the pros and cons of this treatment, as well as how it should be planned to maximize future possibilities of starting a family, he said.