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#ExtendTheLimit: improving women's reproductive choices

Increasing numbers of women in the UK are facing the stark choice of having to destroy their frozen eggs or become a mother before they are ready to do so because of an outdated and unscientific law.

If women want to try to preserve their fertility, the best time to freeze their eggs is in their 20s but, under current UK law, women who freeze their eggs for non-medical (social) reasons can only store them for 10 years. This means if a woman freezes her eggs when she is 28, she has to be ready to use them before she is 38; if she isn't, she faces a limited number of distressing and potentially financially-crippling options:

  • to have her eggs destroyed, and with them perhaps her best or only chance of becoming a biological mother;

  • to become a parent before she is ready to do so, either with a partner or as a solo mum via sperm donation; or

  • to try to fund the transfer of her eggs to a fertility clinic overseas and have fertility treatment abroad at a later date.

The Progress Educational Trust (PET)'s #ExtendTheLimit campaign is calling on the Government to extend the 10-year storage limit for eggs frozen for social reasons.

Why now?

The proportion of women affected is increasing rapidly. In the UK, figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reveal the number of women freezing their eggs more than tripled in the last five years. However, the current 10-year storage limit acts as a perverse incentive for women to delay freezing their eggs until their mid-to-late 30s when egg quality is declining and a woman's chance of becoming a biological mother has reduced - latest HFEA data shows two-thirds of UK women freezing their eggs are over 35.

PET director Sarah Norcross says: 'Women deserve reproductive choice. PET's #ExtendTheLimit campaign aims to improve women's reproductive options. The 10-year storage limit for social egg freezing is a very clear breach of human rights: it limits women's reproductive choices, harms women's chances of becoming biological mothers, does not have any scientific basis (eggs remain viable if frozen for longer than 10 years) and is discriminatory against women because of the decline in female fertility with age. It is an outdated piece of legislation that does not reflect improvements in egg freezing techniques and changes in society which push women to have children later in life; that's why it is time for change now.'

Get involved

If you would like to get involved in PET's #ExtendTheLimit campaign, please email PET's Head of Communications at