National / Science & Health

Eggs of woman in 20s frozen in Urayasu in Japan's first city-funded program

Kyodo

Under the first such program in Japan subsidized by a local government to address the nation’s low birthrate, a hospital in Chiba Prefecture has frozen the eggs of a woman in her 20s to preserve them for future pregnancy, the hospital said.

Juntendo University Urayasu Hospital and the Urayasu Municipal Government said at a news conference to announce the project on Thursday that 11 other women are also preparing for the procedure.

The city and the private hospital jointly launched the project last July with the aim of investigating how ova-freezing would work, and how it could address the nation’s low birthrate.

The ethics committee of the hospital in March approved freezing eggs for four women and it collected eggs from one of them for freezing in May, they said. More than 40 women have attended the hospital’s sessions on the project.

“Egg-freezing does not guarantee pregnancy but there is no end to the number of applicants for such a program. Many of them are in an urgent situation because of health problems,” said Iwaho Kikuchi, a senior associate professor at the hospital.

Urayasu plans to spend ¥90 million on subsidies over the three years to March 2018 to help female residents preserve their eggs for use in future pregnancies.

The subsidies are available to women aged 20 to 34 living in the city, with the frozen eggs to be used for pregnancy by the time they are 45 years old in principle.

A woman would typically pay ¥500,000 to ¥600,000 to have her eggs collected, frozen and preserved. The subsidy lowers the amount to around ¥100,000, including the cost of injections and medication, according to the city.

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