Japanese city subsidizing 80% of the cost for women to freeze eggs in order to boost birth rate

A Japanese city is subsidizing 80% of the cost for women to freeze their eggs

The city of Urayasu is allocating 90 million yen (£600,000) over three years to fund the research project conducted by Juntendo University Urayasu hospital.

The hospital hopes that preserving eggs will encourage women to give birth when they are ready instead of giving up on the idea of having children.

The average cost of such a procedure is between 500,000 and 600,000 yen. Under the scheme, women will pay only 20% of the cost.

Women between the ages of 25 and 34 who live in Urayasu are eligible to participate.

Dr Iwaho Kikuchi said using public funds to support such a study may be a first in the world.

He said 12 women were in the process of starting the freezing process, and about two-thirds of them or their husbands had a health issue.

The success rate of pregnancies from frozen eggs is low. For eggs frozen at the age of 25 it is 30%, falling to 20% at 34.

Almost half of all births in Japan from in vitro fertilization involved frozen embryos from fertilized eggs, according to the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

It said a total of 210,000 births occurred this way.

Cryopreservation, or freezing, of embryos–essentially a method to bring life to a temporary halt–used to be regarded with some suspicion among skeptics.

Roughly 1 million children were born across Japan in 2014, which means that one in 21 was born through IVF and one in 27 had been cryopreserved before birth.