References

Bracewell-Milnes T, Norman-Taylor J, Nikolau D Social egg freezing should be offered to single women approaching their late thirties: AGAINST: Women should be freezing their eggs earlier. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2018; 125:(12) https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.15295

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Egg freezing. https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/fertility-preservation/egg-freezing/ (accessed 27 April 2021)

Jones BP, Serhal P, Ben-Nagi J Social egg freezing should be offered to single women approaching their late thirties: FOR: Women should not suffer involuntary childlessness because they have not yet found a partner. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2018; 125:(12) https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.15291

Petersen TS Arguments on thin ice: on non-medical egg freezing and individualisation arguments. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2021; 47:164-168 https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2020-106059

Polyakov A, Rozen G Social egg freezing and donation: waste not, want not. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2021; 0:1-6 https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2020-106607

Wall J Advancing technologies as both our saviour and our doom. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2021; 47:(3)131-132 https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2021-107284

Social egg freezing

02 June 2021
3 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 6

Abstract

George F Winter takes a look at the evolving landscape of modern pregnancy options and what it means for women

According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA, 2021), ‘egg freezing is one way of preserving a woman's fertility so she can try to have a family in the future. It involves collecting a woman's eggs, freezing them, and then thawing them later so they can be used in fertility treatment’. Such oocyte preservation for non-medical indications has also been called ‘elective egg freezing’, ‘social egg freezing’, or ‘oocyte banking for anticipated gamete exhaustion (AGE)’, states Polyakov and Rozen (2021), who also note that in the UK, there is a 10% annual growth in the number of women who participate in AGE banking.

Given that we appear to be at the dawn of a new oocyte-related ice age, there are ethical aspects of the procedure that perhaps deserve consideration. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG, 2018) has urged caution, observing that ‘the procedure does not guarantee success and there are high private treatment costs, as well as the side effects associated with egg freezing and IVF treatment’. The high cost is confirmed by the HFEA (2021), who state that ‘the whole process for egg freezing and thawing costs an average of £7 000–£8 000’.

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