Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > It's time to remove the ten-year limit on socia...


View graph of relations

It's time to remove the ten-year limit on social egg freezing

Research output: Exhibits, objects and web-based outputsWeb publication/site

Publication date26/10/2020
PublisherProgress Educational Trust
Media of outputOnline
<mark>Original language</mark>English


According to UK law (the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended 2008; henceforth 'the Act'), human eggs can only be frozen for a maximum of ten years for social reasons. However, if a woman has medical reasons (eg, being at risk of premature infertility), then they can extend the freezing of their eggs for as long as 55 years. While there are good reasons to challenge the basis of the regulatory dichotomy between 'medical' and 'social' reasons for egg freezing, I'm going to leave this aside for another discussion and ask instead if this ten-year social egg freezing limit should be maintained by regulators. This is a particularly timely question because it is something the UK government is currently reviewing.

A recent Briefing Note on 'Egg Freezing in the UK', by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, has highlighted the ethical complexities surrounding egg freezing. The Briefing Note emphasised the importance of reviewing the time limit on frozen eggs, especially considering there is an increasing interest and use of egg freezing in the UK. The Council accurately points out that '[t]here appear to be few arguments against increasing this limit.' In this article, I aim to provide three reasons why it is time to remove the ten-year limit on social egg freezing. These reasons are drawn from my own research; however, they also reinforce and expand upon the points made in the Briefing Note itself.