Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Briefing

Is too much hope placed in egg freezing?

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 06 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5955
  1. Sophie Arie, freelance journalist, London
  1. sarie{at}

More women are turning to egg freezing to beat their biological clock despite uncertain success rates. Sophie Arie sets out the facts

Why is egg freezing increasingly popular?

In the past five years, a new technique for freezing eggs called vitrification has been shown to be more effective than the older method, known as “slow freezing.” Vitrification involves a very rapid freezing process which is thought to cause less damage to the eggs and therefore increase the chances of achieving a pregnancy when the eggs are thawed.1

Although the NHS has historically offered egg freezing for medical reasons (when a patient’s fertility might be affected by chemotherapy, for example) and for donating eggs, the arrival of a more reliable method has made egg freezing seem a viable option for healthy women seeking to win time before having a family. According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) the number of eggs frozen in the UK rose from 2476 in 2008 to 7047 in 2013,2 and clinics report that demand has surged …

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