Lack of transparent data on egg freezing creating ethical issues, experts warn – The Irish News

Posted: September 30, 2020 at 7:54 pm

A lack of transparent data on the egg-freezing services provided by fertility clinics is creating a series of ethical issues, experts have warned.

In a briefing note published by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, they said there is a pressing need for information on the success rates of egg freezing to be presented more clearly, accessibly and transparently.

The experts said a lack of long-term data on egg freezing gives an incomplete picture of success rates and motivations for freezing, which creates a series of ethical issues.

Frances Flinter, Nuffield Council member and emeritus professor of clinical genetics at Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust, said: Its vital for women thinking about freezing their eggs to be able to make informed choices.

To do this, they need easy access to data on their chances of success across various stages of the process from freezing and thawing eggs, to having a live birth.

But they also need clinics to be frank about the process and about what is known and unknown about egg freezing.

This is especially important given egg freezings increasing popularity.

The Nuffield note also said that clear information and research is needed for egg freezing being offered as an employment benefit by some companies in the UK.

It said: SEF (social egg freezing) as an employment benefit might be seen as a workplace gender equaliser that has positive effects on womens salaries.

However it might also push women to delay motherhood to show commitment to their career in a manner not required of male employees.

The Nuffield note has also highlighted examples of marketing concerns over egg freezing, which include the trivialisation of egg freezing in media coverage, the role of social media influencers promotion of the technology, the use of algorithms that target women with egg freezing adverts, and events where egg freezing is discussed over prosecco.

It is important that marketing strategies consider such research so that womens anxieties are not exploited, it said.

The note also discussed the benefits of increasing the storage limit for social egg freezing from 10 years, which is currently being considered by the Government.

Positive implications of increasing the limit include enabling women to freeze at an earlier age and providing them with more time to make their own decisions about when and whether to use their frozen eggs, it said.

Commenting on the Nuffield Council note, Dr John Appleby, lecturer in medical ethics at Lancaster University, said: The UKs 10-year egg freezing rule for social egg freezing is not fit for purpose and this briefing highlights how we have very little reason for maintaining it any longer.

He added: If the UK fails to remove the 10-year limit on social egg freezing, there is a risk that some UK patients will be forced to travel abroad in order to access the egg freezing services that they want.

Joyce Harper, professor of reproductive science, Institute for Womens Health, University College London, said: We are seeing an increase in the marketing of egg freezing to young women, with a lack of unbiased information including the value of egg freezing, the success and the cost.

She added: The Nuffield report highlights the need for fertility education to ensure women are aware of female fertility decline.

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Lack of transparent data on egg freezing creating ethical issues, experts warn - The Irish News

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