Young British women are considering freezing their eggs to preserve their fertility until they are well established in their careers, a new study suggested Monday.
A survey of 100 female medical students, with an average age of 21, revealed more than 85 percent would be prepared to delay starting a family for career reasons, and that 69 percent would be happy to store eggs on ice as insurance against later infertility.
The findings, from researchers at the University of Leeds, in northern England, suggested that there is growing demand for egg freezing among young women, particularly those who have decided on a career such as medicine that will involve many years of training.
Srilatha Gorthi, who presented the study to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Rome said: “These results are not surprising, as professional women have long struggled under the double yoke of social pressure to become educated and financially self-sufficient, and the competing biological imperative to reproduce while still young.
“To date, very little research has been done towards establishing whether the concept and practicalities of egg freezing are acceptable to women considering delaying childbearing for social reasons. With the gradual and continual improvement of cryopreservation techniques comes an increased demand for these services,” she added.
There was not yet any evidence, however, that any more than a handful of young women were actually going through with egg freezing for social reasons.
Gorthi said none of the medical students in the study had frozen eggs, that the youngest woman to freeze eggs in her clinic was 28, and that it was most commonly requested by women in their late 30s, whose fertility had already started to decline.
The study found less interest in egg freezing among students getting degrees in sports or education studies, who will not have to spend as long in training as the medical students.
Half of this group said they would delay motherhood because of their social circumstances, and only one in five said they would think about paying to bank their eggs.