Stop The Press- Good News for Fertility Treatment

Today has brought the first glimmer of hope that the storm clouds may be passing for those patiently awaiting to restart fertility treatment.

The Department of Health and Social Care have announced that the statutory time limit for storage of eggs, sperm and embryos will be extended for two years (beyond the current ten year period) for those undergoing fertility treatment during the current pandemic.  Ordinarily at the end of the ten year period, if not used in fertility treatment, the embryos, gametes and sperm are destroyed.  Only where there are sufficient medical reasons and premature infertility can there be a longer storage period. 

The announcement of the two year extension is recognition that in these dark times, those utilising storage facilities should not be penalised by decisions outwith their control. As I wrote about yesterday, one of the hugely difficult consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the cessation of fertility treatment. 

The statement by Sally Cheshire, the Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, recognises that the decision to extend the current statutory storage limit will bring "much-needed reassurance" and, most importantly will give couples "more time to try for their much longed for family". 

The storage time limit was already under review with the UK Government’s consultation continuing until 5th May and I wrote about this yesterday- you can find the piece here. The review seeks views as to whether the time limit should be extended in line with the developments in freezer technologies.

For now, the news of the two year extension shines some light into the darkness for many people. For them, the hope of that longed for family remains.