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New Guideline for Canadian Fertility Centres that Offer Social Egg Freezing

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) today released the Clinical Practice Guideline, Egg Freezing for Age-Related Fertility Decline, which provides a comprehensive review and evidence-based recommendations for Canadian fertility centres that offer social egg freezing.

Over the past 40 years, industrialized countries have seen an increase in child-bearing age. In Canada, half of all births now occur in women age 30 or older, and the average age at which women have their first child has increased from 23.7 in 1970 to 28.5 in 2011. “Although delay in the age of pregnancy is often portrayed as being a choice, for many women it is not a voluntary choice, it is a result of life circumstances over which they have little control”, says Dr. Jennifer Blake, CEO of the SOGC.

“But risk of infertility increases with age—at age 20-24 it is approximately 6%, 16% at age 30 to 34, and 64% at age 40 to 44. As a result, more and more women are seeking advice from fertility centres to manage age-related fertility decline or to improve their chances of conception at a later date.”

Options often include trying to conceive at a younger age, insemination with donor sperm, using donor egg/embryos, or social egg freezing (freezing one’s own eggs as a reproductive option to guard against natural age-related decline in fertility). 

The number of Canadian women who have undergone social egg freezing is relatively small, and the number of women who have returned to use their frozen eggs is even smaller— only 10%, according to the largest social egg freezing studies published to date. It will take many years, potentially decades, for most clinics to have reliable, representative, and age-specific data. 

In the meantime, the SOGC and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) have made a series of recommendations for Canadian fertility centres that offer social egg freezing.