Survey: Egg Freezing by Healthy Women on Rise; More Medical Institutions Offer ‘Social Egg Freezing’

REUTERS/file photo
An image photo: An employee demonstrates the work process before freezing eggs at Cha Fertility Center in Bundang, South Korea, April 30, 2022.

About 30% of medical institutions offering in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment have frozen the eggs of healthy women to preserve their fertility for future pregnancy and childbirth, according to a survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Nearly half of the institutions performing egg freezing for healthy women began conducting the treatment in 2020 or later, suggesting that subsidy programs offered by local governments, private companies and others have helped raise awareness of, and demand for, egg freezing.

The term “social egg freezing” refers to the precautionary freezing of eggs by women who do not have immediate plans for pregnancy or childbirth in order to avoid having difficulty getting pregnant due to aging eggs in the future. This is different from “medical egg freezing” for women at risk of losing their fertility due to radiation or anticancer drug treatment. Neither type is covered by public health insurance.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Egg freezing procedures offered by medical institutions
Based on a survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted the survey on 617 medical institutions registered with the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology to perform IVF treatment and asked them about the situation as of January, with 188 facilities providing answers to questions about egg freezing. According to the survey, 60 institutions (32%) carried out social egg freezing, while 57 institutions (30%) only performed medical egg freezing. The remaining 71 institutions (38%) did not perform either type of egg freezing.

A total of 29 of the medical institutions began offering social egg freezing in 2020 or later.

So far, a total of 8,168 egg freezing procedures have been reported. Of them, 857 were actually used for fertility treatment, with 95 having led to childbirth.