IVF: To Freeze Or Not To Freeze

Recently, egg freezing has been in the news in regards to women’s rights. I didn’t know much about egg freezing until I saw ‘Xu Jinlei’ travel from China to America to get the procedure done. This intrigued me, why America? why travel at all? So, I did some research and it turns out…

According to the current law in China, it’s prohibited for an unmarried, single women to freeze her eggs(oocyte). This is why many single women chose to do egg freezing legally in a developed country such as America. But, why do so many women choose to do this? what is responsible for the increased popularity of egg freezing?

‘Why are more women choosing to freeze their eggs? ’

The rise of ‘singledom’ is a worldwide trend and China is no exception. As the era advances, the social status of women has changed, and the rise of a female workforce has let more women focus on their careers and postpone starting a family.

For a lot of women, pregnancy brings up the idea of love, marriage, motherhood, and where they are in their life. But, as women get older, their fertility often drops dues to the decreasing number and quality of their remaining eggs. As the saying goes: ‘there is no medicine for regret’. Those who are single or worried and want to increase the chance of pregnancy in the future can choose egg freezing.

Benefits?

A woman will have 6-7 millions of eggs, but only 300 to 400 eggs will be ovulated during a woman’s reproductive lifetime. Fertility often drops as a woman ages dues to the decreasing number and quality of remaining eggs. If you’re not ready to get pregnant for any reason, or you can’t get pregnant but don’t want to miss out on being a mother, then egg freezing might be the solution for you.

Egg freezing allows you to store your unfertilized eggs and to preserve their quality for use in the future. You can also free fertilized eggs if you have a partner that wants to participate. According to Marcia Inhorn, the professor of anthropology at Yale University, in the 21st century, females froze eggs mainly because they don’t have time for motherhood. Some professional women and higher educated females freeze eggs not because of their career but because they can’t find a similarly successful man they like. In western countries, soaring numbers of women are freezing their eggs as an ‘insurance policy’ to beat their biological clock.

 

However, egg freezing isn’t cheap.  What’s driving more healthy, young women to spend a fortune in order to preserve their fertility?

Egg freezing can benefit women who may not be ready to get pregnant yet but are concerned about the effect of aging on their fertility. For instance, a 40-year-old woman trying to get pregnant using eggs she froze at 30 years old, will have approximately the same chance of pregnancy as a 30-year-old does. (anyway the risks of being pregnant are increased when you’re older than 30)

There are three main steps in the egg freezing process: hormonal stimulation, egg collection, and the actual freezing procedure. Known as In Vitro Fertilisation, or IVF, it begins with the women undergoing hormone injections for around 10-12 days. Next, after the eggs have developed to a certain size, they are collected by a medical professional using an ultrasound-guided probe. Finally, they are frozen and stored in the IVF laboratory until desired. The success rate for this procedure typically depends on a few factors, namely the women’s physical health and her age. The younger she is when her eggs are frozen, the higher the chance the thawed eggs will result in pregnancy. 

According to the Queensland Fertility Group, ‘In the collection of 10–15 eggs, approximately 40–50% of surviving eggs would fertilize…a single embryo would have a 25%–35% chance of developing into a pregnancy.’

Wait for a second, someone said before, egg freezing helps women do not regret being a mother… It is not that 100% achievable and no promise for these women will have babies in the future. BBC news has reported that the technology of egg freezing might make women mistakenly assume their eggs can indefinitely delay childbearing so they’re likely to miss the opportunities.

In Australia, egg freezing costs approximately $5330,  with added costs for medication and hospitalization (approximately $3000-4000) though you may be able to claim these through health insurance. In the US, the cost of medication and treatment for one cycle is roughly $10,000-12,000 and storing eggs will cost an additional $800 per year.

That’s right, the egg freezing process comes with a huge price to pay! Egg freezing can be a miracle for many women, but there are no guarantees. 

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