[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Warning issued over egg freezing
Mother and baby
Many women are delaying trying for children
Egg freezing should not be offered to women who want to put off having a family purely for lifestyle reasons, say experts.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) warned the procedure was still experimental, and the chances of success poor.

It said it would be wrong to give women a false sense of hope. Instead they should be offered counselling.

However, a UK expert said egg freezing was a valid option for some women.

It is wrong to deprive women of this option, which many of them say is empowering
Dr Gillian Lockwood
Midland Fertility Services

An increasing number of women are choosing to freeze their eggs for social reasons in the hope they will be able to have a child when they are older.

Critics argue they are delaying motherhood for the wrong motives, such as climbing the career ladder or until they have more money.

Dr Marc Fritz, of the ASRM, said it would be wrong for women who have frozen their eggs to think they had ensured their future fertility.

He said: "Existing medical evidence simply does not justify that conclusion."

The ASRM estimates that the overall live birth rate from frozen eggs is as low as 2% per egg.

It warned the figures may be even lower for women over 35 - the age at which fertility begins to decline rapidly.

Dr Fritz said a 25-year-old woman freezing her eggs now would have more chance of achieving a pregnancy through IVF using her fresh eggs when she was 35.


At the end of 2006, 185 women in the UK had eggs on ice. Many are cancer patients whose fertility is affected by treatment.

Four babies have been born from egg freezing in the UK - all following treatment at Midland Fertility Services.

Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director, argued success rates using frozen eggs were comparable with those using frozen embryos.

She dissuades older women from freezing their eggs due to low success rates.

But she added: "As long as women know it's not an insurance policy or a guarantee, then it remains an option they may wish to pursue."

"Many of those women have been with commitment-phobic men or have not found Mr Right, or they are part of a couple that needs two salaries to get a mortgage.

"These are social issues but it is wrong to deprive women of this option, which many of them say is empowering."

Caution key

Dr Simon Fishel, of the CARE Fertility Group in Nottingham, agreed it was important to explain to women that egg freezing was experimental, and carried no guarantee of success.

"Although significant research has been undertaken, and babies are being born from these new techniques, caution and counselling are imperative at this stage, and for several years to come."

Josephine Quintavalle, of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said the ASRM had issued "sound advice".

She said: "The best solution to lifestyle problems is to change one's lifestyle.

"Have babies naturally at the time nature intended and give IVF a miss altogether."


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific