London: An increasing number of women in their 30s and 40s are freezing their eggs while they continue their search for their Mr Right, say British doctors.
"They come in their 30s or late 30s if they haven`t found the right partner," a news website quoted Srilatha Gorthi, a senior research fellow at Leeds Centre for Reproductive Medicine, as saying.
The technique is now as popular with healthy women as with cancer patients and those women at risk of premature menopause.
Simon Fishel, managing director of the 11-clinic chain, said: "Women are coming in their late 30s because they are starting to feel that nothing is happening. They have fallen out of a relationships, they haven`t got a man, they are career people."
The trend was brought to light by a study of all the women who had applied to have their eggs frozen at a Belgian clinic between July 2009-May 2010.
Highly-educated and financially secured, these women were in their late 30s and early 40s, and had considered adoption or single motherhood before plumping to spend hundreds of pounds on IVF and egg vitrification or freezing.
They told their doctors that they wanted to "take the pressure of the search for the right partner" and "give a future relationship more time to blossom" before bringing up the subject of babies.
"The women I saw were not young calculating career women who have everything worked out and deliberately postpone motherhood to advance their careers," said Julie Nekkebroeck, from the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at the Free University of Brussels, who headed the study.
"By vitrifying their oocytes (eggs) they wanted to buy time to find the right partner and do everything they could to prevent age-related infertility. Moreover, frozen oocytes were considered as very precious goods, since even if they would meet Mr Right in the near future, they would only use the frozen oocytes in the last instance, after trying to conceive naturally," she added.
However, others warn that egg freezing does not guarantee motherhood and pointed out that by the time a woman reaches her late 30s, the quality of her eggs deteriorate.
"Many women now choose to delay having children and although they should be supported in that choice, they need to be aware of the potential problems they may encounter when they do decide the time is right for motherhood," said Clare Lewis-Jones of the charity Infertility Network Britain.
"Age has an impact on male as well as female fertility and when they do meet Mr Right, they may well find that he has fertility problems. They also need to be aware that using fertility treatment is no guarantee of success."