Rise in Number of Women Freezing their Eggs

By Sophie Borland and Scarlett Russell Mailonline

  • 21 babies were born out of 253 fertility cycles between 1991 and 2012
  • Is the equivalent of around an 8% chance of conception
  • Private clinics typically charge between  £5,000-£6,000 for egg freezing

Career women who spend thousands of pounds freezing their eggs only have an 8 per cent chance of having a baby, figures have shown.

Private clinics typically charge £5,000 to £6,000 to remove the eggs, then £250 a year to store them and up to £6,000 for them to be re-implanted years later.

But between 1991 and 2012, just 21 babies were born as a result of 253 fertility cycles which used frozen eggs.

There are 69 licensed fertility clinics in the UK. Private clinics typically charge £5,000-£6,000 for egg-freezing

Despite this, figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority show 2,262 women froze a total of 20,465 eggs over the same period.

Fertility expert Lord Winston also stressed that women should only freeze their eggs when they have no other options. He added: ‘There are innumerable clinics that will freeze your eggs for a handsome fee but the justification for this is highly dubious.

‘By the age of 40 your chances of IVF working are slim and you are just as likely to get pregnant naturally. Egg freezing remains an experimental treatment which can only be justified when there is no alternative.’

The number of women choosing to undergo the procedure has increased sharply over the past few years – 580 decided to freeze their eggs in 2012, more than double the 284 who went through the process in 2009.

Patients are given high doses of hormones which stimulate their ovaries to produce large numbers of eggs. These are then removed by a fine needle and stored in liquid nitrogen for a maximum of ten years.

While around 30 per cent of the women had the procedure because of health reasons, the remainder cited social reasons such as the desire to delay motherhood in order to pursue their career.

Michael Summers, a consultant in reproductive medicine at London’s Bridge Centre, said he believes some clinics have been offering patients ‘false hope’, adding: ‘Personally I am blunt with my patients about the chances of success.’

In egg freezing, eggs can be stored for up to ten years in liquid nitrogen at 196 degrees centigrade – rather like a deep freeze.

When a woman decides the time is right for a baby, the egg is thawed slowly which involves a carefully controlled drop in temperature before being warmed up again.