Mother with children- CC via Pixabay
CAIRO – 2 September 2019: Breaking social taboos and Egyptian conservative norms, an Egyptian woman announced on her Facebook account that she had frozen her eggs 2 years ago.
“I decided to announce publicly that I had frozen my eggs. YES, I had frozen my eggs […] when I asked the doctor to make this surgery, he was shocked, telling me ‘I’d never heard this request from a girl in Egypt.’,” said Reem Mehanna posted on her Facebook account.
Mehanna added that she underwent an abdominal ova freezing surgery and her doctor made a laparoscopy to get out her eggs and put themin a freezing environment, saying “the frozen eggs stay for 20 or 30 years without expiring.”
“I froze my eggs for a simple reason that I want to get married after the age of 30 to build my career and [I see] this is appropriate for me. I cannot guarantee when exactly I will get married [...]; I might meet my future husband at 46 years old,” she added.
Mehanna added that she found that the best way to preserve her chance of having a babyis to freeze her eggs.
“I totally reject the idea of getting married to any man to [only] havea child,” she continued, giving a piece of advice to women with cancer to freeze their eggs before taking chemotherapy, which is considered one of the main reasons affecting women’s fertility.
The egg freezing process is one of the social taboos in Egypt, as some girls voiced their concerns of taking such a step. A. D. told Egypt Today that she thought many times of freezing her eggs but was afraid of her parents' reaction, praising Mehanna’s courage to announce her experience with egg freezing.
“Unfortunately, in my point of view, there areno appropriate men [for marriage-responsibilities] but at the same time girls need to be mothers one day. So I see this matter would encourage girls to wait [without fear] until they find a suitable husband,” she added.
“As a mother, I cannot accept the idea that my daughter has a surgery to freeze her eggs. I'm afraid that she might be harmed; also, our society will not accept such concept even if it is religiously allowed,” said Manal Abdel-Moneim, a 42-year-old mother of four daughters and a boy.
Meanwhile, most men Egypt Today interviewed have no problem withthe process provided that it is not prohibited religiously. “As long as there is no religious impediment, [why not]. For me, the arbiter is the religion,” L. Aly told Egypt Today.
Religiously, Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa, the Islamic body concerned with issuing fatwas [Islamic decisions], stated t on its official website that the egg-freezing process is not prohibited, saying “egg-freezing could be a complementary process of vitro fertilization, which was allowed by different schools of Islamic jurisprudence for the married couples.”
Dar al-Iftaa added that there are four rules that regulate egg-freezing. First, the frozen eggs should be used only in marriage and should be fertilized by the husband’s sperm. In case eggs were fertilized after divorce or death, it is religiously forbidden.
Second, the eggs should be kept in highly-safe places and under strict control to prevent intentional or inadvertent confusion with other frozen eggs of different women.
Third, the fertilized egg should not be put inside a different woman’s womb. Meanwhile, the fourth condition provides that the freezing process should not negatively affect the egg to prevent birth defects.
Scientifically, Women who pass the age of 35 or took chemotherapy can undergo egg-freezing surgery, gynecologist Moahmed al-Sharqawy told Mr. Citizen talk show on Al Hadath Alyoum channel on Sunday.
He added that Egypt has no banks for freezing sperm or eggs, but they can be reserved in In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) centers.
Egg-freezing is not a burning issue in Egypt only, but also in the United Arab Emirates. In April 2019, the UAE drew up a draft law to allow freezing eggs, sperms or embryos in a way to prevent surrogacy or egg and sperm donation. Lebanon is another Arab country where egg-freezing is being conducted.