I’ve noticed a new conversation amongst my friends lately. One that never would have come up 10 years ago when we were fresh-faced 20 somethings.
The friends in this egg freezing circle are single, or married but not quite ready for a family because they’re focusing on their careers or businesses. For some, dating has been put on hold thanks to lockdowns.
I’m not hugely surprised this is an up and coming topic. I mean, women have so much more choice now than they have in the past. We can work, we can be the breadwinners, the business owners. No longer is our role only in the home (and baby) making.
Egg freezing can be done for medical reasons too. I’ve heard of people who are undergoing medical treatment such as chemotherapy, but they have yet to have children or they’d like more. They’ve chosen to freeze their eggs to give them a chance of having a biological child in the future.
What is egg freezing?
Egg freezing is a way to preserve fertility. The process involves collecting, freezing and then thawing eggs at a later date to be used in fertility treatments.
As women get older, egg quality and the number of eggs declines. By freezing the eggs when women are younger it helps to preserve the quality.
How does egg freezing work?
Once tests have been carried out for certain infectious diseases and given the all-clear, the IVF process can start. This will often involve injections and drugs to boost egg production and egg maturity. When the eggs are ready it is time for them to be collected and frozen.
The number of eggs available after this process will depend on different factors. Some women can have around 15, others much less.
When the time is right for a baby, the eggs are thawed and mixed with sperm (partner or donor) to hopefully create an embryo. This is then ready for implantation either into the person who froze the eggs or a surrogate.
How much does egg freezing cost?
When one of my friends came into some money, she started looking into freezing eggs. The cost seems to vary between clinics, but on average you are looking at around £7-8k. Remember, you also need to pay to store the eggs in the clinic’s freezer. Check the shelf life for each clinic, but often it is around 10 years.
Can you freeze eggs on the NHS?
Some are able to get funding for egg freezing on the NHS if they are having cancer treatments. Chemo can affect eggs by either reducing or preventing them from being released. I’ve listened to some amazing podcasts from women who overcame cancer at a young age but froze their eggs and used a surrogate in the future.
Here is a little more info on cancer and freezing your eggs from Macmillian.
Should you freeze your eggs?
Freezing your eggs is something you might be thinking about if you haven’t met the right partner yet, but you know you’d like a family in the future. Or maybe you have met the perfect person but the time isn’t so.
Chat with friends, talk to your GP, join forums to get advice from women in a similar position. There are options, ladies!
As a wrap up the, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority shares the following facts and stats on their report:
- Clinics have an ethical responsibility to be clear that egg freezing below the age of 35 offers women their best chance of creating their much longed for family
- The report is also clear that the younger you freeze your eggs, the greater chance of your success. This will inevitably lead to further calls for a change in the law to increase the current ten year storage limit for frozen eggs.
- The majority of women freezing eggs using NHS funding are aged below 35, with 89% below age 38. In 2016, 81% of all egg freezing cycles were privately funded and 19% publicly funded. This has changed from 74% private and 26% public in 2010.
- In 2016 most women freezing eggs are registered with a male partner (53%), or no partner (46%), with a minority registered with a female partner (around 1%). Women who have frozen their eggs are much more likely to have no partner compared to standard IVF treatment (46% compared to 2%).