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
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.’