Past events

Debate: Can Women put motherhood on Ice?


You are invited to attend the Progress Educational Trust's FREE public debate 'CAN WOMEN PUT MOTHERHOOD ON ICE?  in Edinburgh in just under a month's time. This event, which is supported by the Scottish Government, is taking place on Wednesday 15 June and will begin with refreshments at 5.45pm followed by a panel discussion at 6.30pm


The cryopreservation (freezing or vitrification) of eggs offers great hope of being able to delay motherhood and beat the biological clock. Although women's fertility declines with age, more and more women are putting off having children. Can egg freezing deliver on its promise?




The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's 2016 report on fertility trends and figures includes, for the first time, a section on egg freezing. It shows that the number of women freezing their eggs has increased substantially in the UK, and continues to increase year on year. However, the proportion of frozen eggs that are being thawed and used in treatment remains low.


These figures may be modest but the debate has become big, especially when it comes to cryopreservation for non-medical reasons - so-called 'social egg freezing'. Current UK law states that eggs can be stored when there is no medical need to do so, but only for a maximum of 10 years. Meanwhile, the likelihood of being able to conceive with thawed eggs is fiercely debated.


Fertility figurehead Professor Lord Robert Winston has told The Times that clinics which charge handsomely for cryopreservation are being 'highly exploitative', and has told Woman's Hour that 'the idea that you can store eggs by freezing I think is a scam'. By contrast, some clinicians are so confident of the reliability of egg freezing that they have published papers arguing that 'all women should freeze their eggs'.


How many eggs would a woman need to freeze, to have a reasonable chance of pregnancy? What are the risks of egg freezing? Does egg freezing give women more control and greater reproductive autonomy? How are egg freezing services being marketed? Is it misleading to promote egg freezing as an insurance policy? Should employers be encouraging women to delay motherhood? Where can women get trustworthy information about egg freezing?


Our event will see these questions debated by DAVID BAIRD (Emeritus Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology at the University of Edinburgh), DR SARAH MARTINS DA SILVA (Consultant Gynaecologist at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School), DR AINSLEY NEWSON (Director of the Bioethics Programme at the University of Sydney), DR ANGEL PETROPANAGOS (Research Associate in the Impact Ethics team at Dalhousie University), and - chairing the debate - PROFESSOR JANE NORMAN (Director of Tommy's Maternal and Fetal Research Centre at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh).


Much of the event's running time will be devoted to letting YOU put questions and comments to the speakers. See for further details.


Attendance is FREE, but advance booking is required. To reserve your place, please RSVP by emailing