COVID19 lockdown leads to increase in egg freezing

Fertility clinics in the UK are seeing a sharp rise in interest for egg freezing. This may be because of the COVID19 lockdowns. Many clinics are reporting a 50% increase in enquiries for the process and the reason is twofold:

● Covid restrictions have lowered the chance of meeting a partner

● Professional working women are seeing egg freezing as an insurance policy against childlessness in the future.

One example is Kate Davidson, a 35-year-old Commercial Director, who told the Sunday Times newspaper, “A big part of me wanted to do it because I wanted to share my eggs. But I also like the fact that I’ve got some put away for me now. I was quite reflective about work, life – all those things. I think that’s what prompted me to make the move.”

Another woman, who did not want to be named, told the paper that the whole that her and her friends socialise and dated had changed. She said, “If I don’t meet the man of my dreams until I’m 39, then at least I know I’ve got the eggs of a 33-year-old. I just haven’t met that person and with the coronavirus, I felt that it was becoming harder. That was the trigger.”

It’s not just enquiries about the process that are increasing. Consultations are on the rise too, with treatment centres like the London Women’s Clinic seeing a 25% increase compared with last year. The Harley Street Fertility Clinic has also seen a 20% increase.

523% increase in egg freezing

In fact, egg freezing, as an insurance policy was on the increase even before COVID19 struck. A recent report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority showed that the number of women opting to freeze their eggs or embryos  has risen significantly. In the UK it rose 523% between 2013 and 2018.

Speaking of this, Professor Joyce Harper, Professor of Reproductive Science at University College London, said, “The majority of women who freeze their eggs are single. When they’ve been asked, most of them want to have children now, they just haven’t met Mr. Right or haven’t got a partner who is happy to have children.”

In the UK egg freezing for social reasons (i.e. non-medical reasons) is not available on the NHS. The procedure costs around £3,350 in a private clinic. This is still cheaper than in some other parts of the world. For instance, in the US it is around $10,000 and doesn’t necessarily include the ongoing storage costs. It may be that when COVID19 restrictions are finally lifted there could be a further increase in egg freezing in the UK as more women travel to take advantage of lower prices abroad.