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Japan making plans for single women to freeze ova for later use
Publication Date : 25-08-2013
The Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine has drafted guidelines that would allow healthy unmarried women to have their ova frozen for later use in vitro fertilisation.
The society embarked on creating the new guidelines as part of efforts to clarify rules on the frozen storage of eggs, as the average age of childbrearing has been increasing and a growing number of institutions are expected to freeze eggs as a result.
The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s guidelines allow couples undergoing fertility treatment and cancer patients at risk of their ovaries ceasing to function to have their eggs frozen for reproductive purposes. However, this is the first time for a Japanese medical society to express its view on unmarried women in this area.
The new guidelines do not recommend that women aged 40 or older have their ova harvested for reproductive purposes, or for women aged 45 or older to use their frozen eggs for fertilisation, to avoid the risks that accompany pregnancies later in life.
The guidelines say frozen eggs should be limited to a woman’s own use. They also require that patients be fully informed and understand the risks of harvesting eggs and the effectiveness of reproductive treatments prior to giving consent.
Eggs are to be discarded when the woman who produced them dies, according to the draft.
The Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine plans to release the draft and ask for feedback from the public and related medical societies, in the hope of completing the guidelines by the end of this year.
Eggs are preserved by flash-freezing them at minus 196 degrees Celsius in liquid nitrogen. Although the freezing of fertilised eggs has been common, it used to be difficult to freeze eggs before fertilisation due to their fragile cell membrane.
However, new methods to freeze eggs have been established in recent years, and the preservation of frozen eggs has spread worldwide.