When it comes to fertility the stats make for rather depressing reading (for those of us who still remember the struggle of having to hit a key 3 times just to write one letter on our Nokia 232 phones that is).
The average woman is at her most fertile in her early to mid twenties after which there’s a slow decline which plummets hard and fast after 35 (we told you it was depressing). Sadly Mother Nature doesn’t take into account that things have changed somewhat since the days where a woman’s place was the kitchen. For example, what about all those holidays we need to cram in first? Not to mention finding Mr Right (or just a Mr), cultivating a career and that’s before we’ve even got our heads around caring for anything other than ourselves and our cat. Which is precisely why the potential to be able to preserve our fertility until we’re ready to take the step into motherhood feels like an alluring prospect.
“We’ve seen an increase in women wishing to freeze their eggs in the past few years,” says Dr Geetha Venkat of the Harley Street Fertility Clinic (http://www.hsfc.org.uk). “We believe this is due to a trend to delay having children and increasing awareness of the options available. Advances in cryopreservation (freezing) techniques for eggs have also dramatically improved the survival rate.” Here she tells us all we need to know.
Can anyone do it?
“Anyone who wishes to preserve their fertility is eligible to freeze their eggs,” says Dr Venkat. “This can be for social or medical reasons. The only eligibility criteria are that you must be of a reproductive age (i.e. have eggs for freezing) and have a BMI of less than 35.”
What does it involve?
“A woman considering freezing her eggs will first need to have a fertility check-up including hormone blood tests and ultrasound scans at the appropriate time in her cycle in order to determine whether the treatment is a viable option for her. After that, the process is very similar to IVF in that she will have to undergo ovarian stimulation for approximately 10 days (using daily injections of a stimulatory medication) after which she will undergo her egg collection procedure, which takes about 30 minutes and is performed under intravenous sedation.”
How long can the eggs be stored for?
“Eggs frozen for medical reasons can be stored for up to 55 years. Eggs frozen for social reasons can be stored up to 10 years, however this period can be extended to a maximum of 55 years if the woman or her partner are likely to become infertile during the original storage period.”
How much does it cost?
“We would advise a patient to budget approximately £5,000.”