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Eggs on ice.

person in frozen tunnel

Thinking about freezing your eggs to have a baby later?

Egg freezing is a phenomenon that has been widely broadcast by the media and actively promoted to GP’s by fertility clinics in recent years, creating a state of emotional and psychological pressure for young women to freeze their oocytes in time.

Promoted as an empowering option for women who want to stop the biological clock and improve their chance of having a baby later in life, yet a qualitative study that was conducted in the in Netherlands in 2021 showed that women who select SEF are driven by feelings of fear, including fear of the lack of an ideal partner and fear of declining fertility.

The media choose to highlight only the positive aspects of the method without mentioning the possible risks, not to mention costs, ethics and social inequality.

Developed in the 1980s and historically reserved for those with serious medical conditions who wanted the option to have a baby later in life, the past few years, have seen the procedure go through something of a makeover, thanks to a crop of fertility startups marketing it as essential for the everyday, liberated woman.

From winking Instagram ads to chic offices and happy-hour informational , it all conveys a sense that egg freezing doesn’t have to be scary, or even a big deal, bringing it under the all-inclusive banner of self-care and wellness.

So what is the real cost of this new found "empowerment."

I would suggest that in reality, it is the ultimate subscription model for IVF clinics.

“We need to be very careful about how egg freezing technology is utilised and offered and sold, and that we are not exploiting fears in order to make a quick buck,” said Dr Pasquale Patrizio, the head of Yale Fertility Center and Fertility Preservation Program

woman thinking

Out with the calculator...tap tap tap ...Each egg retrieval process costs between A$7,000 and $10,000 and unlike IVF, there is no Medicare rebate. Then;

Based on the data above, an average 35-year-old woman can expect to pay $14,000-$16,000 and an average 38-year-old woman $21,000-$24,000 to store enough eggs for an 80% chance of a baby.

And if you return to use those eggs, you will need to pay to thaw them and inseminate them to create embryos. That process will add thousands to the overall cost.

I would suggest that in reality, egg freezing in the way it is currently being promoted, is the ultimate subscription model for IVF clinics and with yet further medicalisation of the pursuit of pregnancy, borders on unethical.

“If you don’t have premature ovarian insufficiency (loss of normal ovarian function before age 40) or other risk factors that affect your fertility, you are going to be fine until your early 30s. You don’t need to worry about freezing your eggs if you want to have one or two kids,” Dr. Patrizio says.

What happens after the big freeze?

The longest follow-up study so far looked at the return rate among women who had stored their eggs for more than a decade.It found less than 40% had returned to use their eggs with the usage rate for frozen eggs ranges from about 3% to 9%.

The most comprehensive data on what happens when eggs are thawed comes from the United States, where researchers calculated that for women under the age of 35, 41 eggs needed to be thawed for one live birth. This increased to 99 eggs for women aged between 38 and 40.

“I don’t want them to think of it as something they can do to delay starting a family more than they otherwise would. You aren’t guaranteed that you’ll be able to use those eggs when you freeze them.”— Amanda N. Kallen, MD, Yale Medicine reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist.

You have complete sovereignty over your body and your choices and deserve:

  • comprehensive information about all the pros and cons of elective egg freezing.

  • knowledge about the potential risks, (including ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS), a potentially serious condition caused by an excessive physical response to the hormone stimulation).

  • transparency around the clinic’s own experience and track record.

  • personalised estimates of how many eggs they need to freeze to have a reasonable chance of having a baby down the track.

Women need factual and realistic information about what is possible with elective egg freezing, not winking instagram ads to make informed decisions and manage their expectations.

Information in this read has been partly reproduced from these articles.


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