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Private clinics overcharge women for freezing eggs - Lord Winston

Published 12/09/2015

Lord Winston criticised the charges levied by private clinics for freezing eggs.
Lord Winston criticised the charges levied by private clinics for freezing eggs.

Women who freeze their eggs to have a child later in life are being overcharged by private clinics who do not disclose that their chances of pregnancy are slim, according to a leading fertility expert.

Hundreds of women are choosing to freeze their eggs each year, with the number collected by clinics nearly trebling to 7,000 a year since 2008.

But official figures reportedly reveal that less than 2% of procedures involving frozen eggs lead to a successful birth.

IVF pioneer Lord Winston said that clinics were providing inadequate or misleading information about the chances of success and charging "highly exploitative" prices of more than £10,000.

The scientist also claimed that companies were taking advantage of scare stories about a crisis of infertility.

He told The Times: "Given that now in Britain the average age of first baby is around 30 or 31 - and there's been a steady increase in more women gaining education, gaining skills, going into the workplace, which is wholly good - there isn't actually an increase in infertility."

The newspaper said that an investigation it had carried out found that some private clinics are charging up to £12,000 for the freezing and thawing treatment.

Hidden charges for drugs, tests and consultations can add thousands more to the bill.

When done through the NHS, for example when cancer treatment threatens a patient's chances of conceiving, the process can cost the taxpayer around £4,000.

Freezing eggs has become an increasingly popular way for professional women to stop their biological clock during key years in their careers.

Companies such as Apple and Facebook even offer female workers egg-freezing as a perk of their job.

Data from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority shows that between 2008 and mid-2013 only 1.7% of patients who had their eggs thawed went on to have a live birth.

With eggs transferred to wombs, there was still a less than 10% successful pregnancy rate.

At most there were 44 successful pregnancies from women's own frozen eggs over the five and half year period, with fewer than 98 live births from frozen donor and patient eggs across the country despite a combined total of 24,406 frozen eggs.

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