KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 — Muslim women in Malaysia are forbidden by a fatwa to freeze their eggs before marriage.  

Shariah law only allows a woman’s eggs to be fertilised by her husband’s sperm. Thus, freezing her eggs for social purposes is not allowed, said fertility expert Dr Natasha Ain Mohd Nor.  

“A fatwa has been established for Muslim women, where freezing their eggs before marriage is not permissible,” she told Bernama.  “However, after marriage, they can freeze their eggs provided they be fertilised by the sperm of the husband.” 

Dr Natasha said egg freezing in Islam was only encouraged if the woman is unable to conceive naturally due to a medical condition, and not for social reasons where young single women freeze their eggs to become pregnant later on in life. 

Asked what the current thinking was among Muslim women in Malaysia on egg freezing, she said: “They haven’t caught up with the idea as it is very expensive. Egg freezing could cost a woman between RM15,000 and RM17,000.” Dr Natasha, who works at the KL Fertility Centre, said Muslim women who opted to freeze their eggs were usually those with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer. 

“Muslim women wishing to freeze their eggs do it for medical purposes. But this is still a very small minority,” she said. 

“These women are usually undergoing chemotherapy. They are referred by their doctor to a fertility expert to assist them freeze their eggs as an option should they later decide to have children.” 

Asked whether there were other reasons for Muslim women seeking to freeze their eggs, Dr Natasha said she had helped freeze the eggs of Muslim women whose husbands could not produce enough sperm. 

“What happens is that we freeze the woman’s eggs, and then give the husband a day or two to produce the sperm to fertilise them.” Dr Natasha encouraged women in general not to delay pregnancy, saying egg freezing was not a 100 per cent guarantee that they would conceive.  “Egg freezing is an option, but the likelihood of the woman becoming pregnant is not 100 per cent guaranteed,” she said. 

“If a woman wants to freeze her eggs, she is encouraged to do so in her early 30s while she still has enough eggs. In her 40s, it would be difficult.” Dr Natasha said a woman’s eggs could last five to 10 years after they were frozen. 

“Therefore, it would be advisable for a woman who wants to delay pregnancy to see a gynaecologist and have a full health assessment to know about the fertility of her eggs.” — Bernama