a baby for Christ­mas

What’s on your list this year? Make-up, clothes, a new ipad? How about the gift of fer­til­ity from your mum and dad? Look in­ves­ti­gates

Look (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Women can have a ca­reer and a fam­ily

When Sarah Owens from Lancashire wakes up on Christ­mas day, she’s hop­ing to find a very dif­fer­ent present un­der the tree: a gift card that will al­low her to fund egg freez­ing, some­thing she’s wanted to do for a long time. Sarah’s among a grow­ing num­ber of women opt­ing for egg freez­ing as a way to pre­vent po­ten­tial fer­til­ity prob­lems in the fu­ture.

‘I’m wor­ried about my bi­o­log­i­cal clock and I haven’t even met the right per­son,’ says Sarah. ‘I know I want kids one day and so my mum sug­gested egg freez­ing and of­fered it up as a Christ­mas present. She wants grand­chil­dren one day.’

In the last 50 years, the av­er­age child­bear­ing age has risen from 24 to 31. For many women, their peak ca­reer years and the best age to have chil­dren seem to clash.

Egg freez­ing works by ‘re­triev­ing’ a cer­tain num­ber of eggs from a woman’s ovaries. Each re­trieval is called a cy­cle, and once each cy­cle has ended the eggs are tested to make sure they’re healthy. If they’re deemed fit enough, they’ll be frozen. Egg freez­ing by choice isn’t avail­able on the NHS and un­der­go­ing even one cy­cle can cost be­tween £3,500-£4,500. Tests and med­i­ca­tions cost more, and then there’s an an­nual stor­age fee (which can be up to £400). Since 2001, 3,676 women have cho­sen to freeze their eggs.

Sarah’s mum Julie says she wanted to pay for her daugh­ter to have it done be­cause she thinks it’s a sen­si­ble, smart op­tion. ‘It means Sarah can fo­cus on her ca­reer – her hap­pi­ness out­weighs the fi­nan­cial as­pect for me.’

But there are no guar­an­tees that the freez­ing will be suc­cess­ful or that once you’re ready for a baby, it will lead to a preg­nancy. In fact less than 60 have led to suc­cess­ful births.

‘Egg freez­ing is the sec­ond wave of women’s eman­ci­pa­tion – af­ter the Pill,’ says Dr Geeta Nar­gund, fer­til­ity ex­pert and med­i­cal direc­tor of CRE­ATE Fer­til­ity. ‘It of­fers sim­i­lar free­dom of choice, so women can have ca­reers and fam­i­lies and do what they wish, when they wish, with their own bod­ies.’

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