Women are increasingly delaying motherhood for a variety of reasons however a woman’s fertility declines with age; particularly from their mid to late thirties. This loss of reproductive capacity is largely due to an inevitable decline in egg quality. Consequently, Social Egg Freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) is providing a viable means of preserving fertility for many women. This is one woman’s story about her personal journey to preserving her fertility.
Have you always known you wanted to have children one day?
Always. I knew when I was in high school that I wanted to be a mother and have a family of my own but I always kind of knew deep down that I would be an older mum. I was driven in high school and really focussed on my education. I wanted to go to university and also travel the world, this was important to me and a priority. I also grew up understanding that fertility is not something that should be taken for granted. So I feel I’ve known from an early age that age and health and lifestyle are important factors when starting a family.
When did you first learn about egg freezing?
About 8 years ago, it was first getting reported in the media and became a topic of conversation at Uni. What I knew at the time was that the technology was still pretty imperfect and success rates were not that great, but was giving hope to people who were undergoing cancer. At the time it never really occurred to me that I would go down this path; I was still optimistic that I would find someone and we would have a family naturally.
How did you come to your decision to freeze your eggs?
The final decision was a couple of years in the making, but the process started when I visited my GP aged 29. My GP discussed pregnancy and age with me and suggested I have my AMH tested (Antimullerian Hormone), a blood test that is said to be a good indicator of how many viable eggs I had left in my reserve. When the test came back in the lowest 25 percentile I was really shocked, and I guess it started a process of really looking at where I was in my life. I’d been to university and got my qualifications, I had a great job in my chosen profession, I’d even managed to travel… but I’d only just started a new relationship and it was way too soon to start talking babies! And frankly, I just wasn’t ready yet, although I knew I did want kids of my own one day.
At age 32, my relationship was still going strong, we were talking about starting a family and due to ‘other’ circumstances that arose at the time, we decided we would wait another year before starting. Worried about my age and what may present in the coming year with my partner, I decided to go back to my GP and get my AMH re-tested. The result was the same as the original test and after discussing the results with my GP, I just felt it was time.
How did you go about the process?
During the decision making process, I was also doing my research. I got information from brochures, websites, news, international and local. I had friends that had undergone IVF and discussed it with my GP so I felt I knew what I’d be in for. I was referred to a Monash IVF Fertility Specialist and we discussed my options in more detail, undertook blood tests and ultrasounds, and went step-by-step through the process, how it all works and realistic expectation of results.
Did you tell friends and family about your decision?
Yes. Once I’d made the decision I was really happy about it, I found I became so open about it and told friends and family. I even told some people at work! My mum really wants to be a grandma, so up until this point, I’d felt some pressure to start a family, so my mum was so happy and supportive and has since taken the pressure off.
I even remember the lead up to Christmas when all my friends were pregnant. Instead of being probably a little anxious not being pregnant myself; I felt great about sharing with them that I was being proactive about my future.
How did you approach the costs involved?
How can you put a value on the chance to have a biological child? This is what I kept telling myself. It’s expensive, but it was also really important to me. It may be expensive for me now in my current life-stage, but I hope looking back when I’m sixty it will seem like small change! I rationalised it by saying that people borrow a little ‘extra’ on their home loans for whatever reasons all the time.
Has the decision impacted your relationship at all?
It’s great; less pressure. I’m not so concerned that my biological clock is ticking and am really enjoying my life and relationship as we grow as a couple. Who knows what the future holds; circumstances can change so quickly in life. This way I have comfort in knowing I’ve safeguarded my future, my eggs will be 32yrs old forever! Although I do understand not all my eggs will be future children as they need to survive the thaw, then insemination and fertilisation, grow to blastocyst and subsequent implantation. But success rates are good, and I know I’ve done all I possibly can, so that when circumstances permit we can start our family.
Did you find the egg collection process / procedure difficult?
No. I guess once I’d made the decision to proceed, I was really process driven. It was a rational, conscious and preventative decision for me, so it actually gave me relief going into the process. Although, in saying that, the first injection was soo scary…. I’m not great with needles… but it was nothing, and it was fine after that.
Did you feel relief once your eggs were safely cryopreserved?
What advice would you give other women who may be considering social egg freezing?
If you’ve thought about it for a while, but are concerned about the investment involved – I think it’s obviously important not to jump into an unwise financial position. But if your concerns are around stigma, or that the process is scary, or too complex, then you should just jump in – the relief for me at this point of my life has been liberating.
For more information Social Egg Freezing or to discuss your concerns about fertility preservation, feel welcome to have a chat with one of our fertility nurses, Jo or Kathy. Nurse chats are available by calling 1800 628 533 or making an online enquiry via our website.