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In the past, women got married and had children right away. Increasingly though, women want to pursue careers and accomplish other goals before they have kids. The only problem with this though is that women’s bodies only produce a finite amount of eggs. Once all the eggs are gone, that’s it – women can no longer have children. This can create a bit of a ‘ticking clock’ situation, which is very stressful and detrimental to a woman’s mental health.
However the advent of new technologies, such as oocyte cryopreservation (more commonly known as egg freezing) has given women more options and control over their fertility. While the benefits to a woman’s mental and physical health are profound, there are a number of factors to think about before deciding to freeze your eggs.
Peace of mind
Freezing fertile eggs gives women more freedom to do things they want to do before they get pregnant. It also takes a lot of the pressure off of settling down right away. Getting rid of this stress gives you time to do things like finishing school, travelling or buying a house before rushing to start a family.
Better chance of healthy eggs
As women get older, the condition of the eggs their bodies produce drops. It starts dropping after they turn 32, and falls significantly after age 37. Women who choose to freeze their eggs when they’re young, however, can preserve the quality of their eggs for a while, while they take care of whatever they need to before they have children.
Reduced pressure to find a partner right away
Some women don’t find the right person right away. Freezing eggs gives women who haven’t found the their perfect partners good time to find the right person for them, and ensures their eggs will have a better chance of being viable when they do find the right person and decide they want to have children.
No guarantee of pregnancy
Preserving your eggs doesn’t guarantee pregnancy, in fact The Human Fertilization and Embryo Authority states that only 19% of frozen eggs result in a birth. A major risk of egg freezing is having a false sense of security so it’s critical that women know the real chances of the procedure to avoid being devastated or betrayed in the future.
Fear of sedation
In order to freeze the eggs, doctors stimulate the ovaries by injecting hormones that cause them to produce several eggs. They then retrieve them through a procedure requiring mild sedation. After that, the eggs are frozen in a lab. Some women don’t mind going under anaesthesia, but others are afraid of it, and some have a reaction to different anaesthesia medications. Women should think about how they feel about being sedated before they decide if you want to freeze your eggs. They also need to let the doctor know if they’re allergic to certain types of anaesthesia.
The process of retrieving the eggs can be costly. In addition to paying for the procedure, women will also have to pay another £500 to £1000 a year to store the eggs. Plus, when you’re ready to try getting pregnant, in vitro fertilisation rounds cost anywhere from £3,500 to £5,000, and there’s no way to know the number of rounds a woman will need to get pregnant. That means you must save up a lot of money for all the costs involved with egg freezing and in vitro fertilisation, in addition to your other life goals.
These are just some pros and cons of freezing eggs. Before deciding if this is right for you, weigh these pros and cons and think about the goals you want to accomplish in your life. Also, consider how good of health you and your spouse are in now, and what you’ll have to do to maintain that level of good health so you can get pregnant later if you decide to pursue egg freezing.
Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.