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  1. Published on: 07/09/2021 09:28 AMReported by: editor
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    The UK government has announced that the time limit on storage of frozen eggs, sperm and embryos will be raised from 10 years to a renewable 10 year limit capped at a maximum of 55 years.

    Individuals across the UK are increasingly choosing to freeze their gametes (eggs and sperm) and embryos. There is a variety of reasons for this, including:

    • not being ready for a family but wanting to preserve fertility
    • cancer treatment that may affect fertility
    • because they are planning to transition or undergo gender re-assignment surgery


    The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reported that in 2019 in the UK, 37% of patients freezing their eggs were under the age of 35, 53% were 35 to 40, and 12% were over 40.

    The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended in 2008 (the ‘HFE Act’) governs the use and treatment of gametes and embryos. The HFE Act currently limits the storage of gametes and embryos to a maximum of 10 years. Subsequent changes to the Act through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Statutory Storage Period for Embryos and Gametes) Regulations 2009 (the ‘2009 Regulations’) permitted an extension of the baseline storage limit for 10-year periods up to a maximum of 55 years for those who can demonstrate a medical need. More recently, in response to the disruption to fertility services during COVID-19, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Statutory Storage Period for Embryos and Gametes) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (the ‘2020 Regulations’), were introduced, allowing for an additional 2-year storage in addition to the maximum base limit of 10 years for those with material in storage on 1 July 2020.

    Cryopreservation techniques have improved significantly since the current statutory limits were set. Studies show that frozen eggs today have the same developmental potential as fresh eggs. Clinical pregnancy rates from embryos created from thawed eggs are equivalent to fresh in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. In 2017, the birth rate per embryo transfer was 27% per frozen embryo for UK patients aged under 35 and 30% per fresh embryo. For women aged 40 and over, birth rate per embryo transfer was 9% per frozen embryo and 5% per fresh embryo.

    The current storage limits often restrict women to 2 choices. To freeze their most viable eggs in their 20s and use them to have a family in their 30s even if they are not ready; or to freeze their far less viable eggs in their 30s to start a family in later life, which is when treatments have a lower chance of success. Some choose to continue storage abroad which is expensive and depending on the country, may lack regulatory controls.

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    Your Comments:


  3. The PNP says:07/09/2021 09:48 AM
    A sign of things to come?

  4. Little Londoner says:07/09/2021 11:26 AM
    What couple in their 20's wouldn't put off having kids until they are in their 70's.


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