Single women can freeze eggs in Netherlands

15th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Single women who are under 40 and want to have children later in life will be able to store their eggs in Amsterdam’s academic medical centre in 2009.

Amsterdam – As of 2010, Amsterdam's academic medical centre (AMC) will allow single women under 40 who wish to have children later in life to freeze their eggs or part of their ovaries.

The frozen eggs, or oocytes, allow women to be pregnant beyond the standard reproduction age.

For decades, it was possible to freeze sperm. However, freezing oocytes was far more problematic as they are larger and contain more water which has a tendency to crystallise when freezing.

A new rapid freezing technique called vitrification, developed in Japan two years ago, allow oocytes to be frozen so quickly that ice crystals do not form. This dramatically increases the likelihood that oocytes will be viable when they are thawed.

This is the first time that women in the Netherlands are offered egg harvesting and freezing services for non-medical reasons.

The procedure will be available to women under the age of 40, said the AMC. When the women wish to have children, the oocytes will be thawed and implanted in the womb. The research hospital says women over the age of 50 will not be eligible for the procedure.

"Women are fertile for a far shorter period than men. We are contributing to the emancipation of women by making vitrification available for non-medical reasons," said Professor Fulco van der Veen.

Meanwhile, the ruling Christian Democrats (CDA) have opposed to the medical plan.

In an interview with de Volkskrant, CDA MP Janneke Schermers said: "But by that age (50), pregnancy is artificial and requires hormone treatment."

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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