Since spring 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in full force, fertility clinics in the UK have seen increasing interest from women wishing to freeze their eggs, also known as ‘cryopreservation’. Some fertility clinics have seen an increase of over 50% in enquiries.
The London Women’s Clinic said interest was 30% higher than anticipated for this year. Similarly, Harley Street Fertility Clinic saw enquiries rise by 20% and IVF London has reported that the number of women seeking to freeze their eggs has doubled in the past few months.
What has Caused this Rising Demand?
Due to social distancing and a number of restrictions placed in the UK during the pandemic, the ability to date and meet a partner was largely hindered. It appears that this change in events may have prompted women to consider their options as they look ahead to the future.
According to Joyce Harper, Professor of Reproductive Science at University College London, the majority of women choosing to freeze their eggs so far have been single, and may have wanted to have children imminently but have not yet met the right partner. With the pandemic further hindering their chances of meeting that person, egg freezing and its success has become a more attractive option.
The pandemic has played into and added to the uncertainty of fertility treatment. No-one really knows yet how long Covid-19 is going to be around and, with the biological clock ticking, it may seem like egg freezing is the only option for some women.
What is the Egg Freezing Process?
Egg freezing can be costly as this fertility treatment is not available on the NHS and is instead conducted at private fertility clinics.
The egg freezing process itself involves the beginning of the IVF procedure, which stimulates a woman’s ovaries to produce eggs which are then surgically removed and fast-frozen using a technique called ‘vitrification.’
Vitrification transforms the eggs into a glass-like state, so that in the future they can be thawed and fertilised in a laboratory.
The end goal of freezing is that eggs can be used to create a pregnancy and live birth, at a time when the patient’s own fertility may have been compromised.
Egg Freezing Success?
Egg freezing is still a relatively new procedure and the number of women coming back so far to thaw their frozen eggs is small. However, the success rate for egg freezing is good, but this can depend on the woman’s age and the quality of the thawed egg.
The chances of becoming pregnant after implantation are roughly 30% to 60%. The older you are at the time of freezing, the lower your likelihood of becoming pregnant in the future.
It is recommended that women over the age of 38 carefully consider the implications of the egg freezing process, as the quality of their eggs will decline significantly after this age.
If you are considering freezing your eggs, book an appointment at a fertility clinic and a fertility specialist will be able to guide you through all the associated risks with the procedure, on an individual basis, and give you a more personalised egg freezing success rate indication.
Thanks to our friends at Fertility Help Hub for their kind permission to reproduce this article which first appeared here.