The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
The women deciding to freeze their future
As COVID-19 thwarts the birds and the bees, thousands are turning to science to buy Mother Nature a little time
I thought it was better to preserve at 33 than regret at 40
QUEENSLAND women are freezing their eggs more than ever before in a trend experts believe has been sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of women who froze their eggs with Monash IVF Brisbane increased by 25 per cent from 2019 to 2020, while Queensland Fertility Group experienced a 32 per cent increase across its clinics between 2019 to 2021.
Queensland Fertility Group’s medical director Associate Professor Anusch Yazdani said a trend in social egg freezing had been especially evident in the cities, with his Spring Hill clinic one of the busiest.
He said the biggest demographic he consulted were professional women in their mid-30s, particularly those who worked in the legal field or business management.
For many, their lives stood still during lockdown, leaving them unable to progress personal relationships and start a family.
“The pandemic focused everyone’s thoughts towards family and how much it means to them, while sitting in isolation at home,” Assoc Prof Yazdani said.
“They haven’t been able to travel or move around and they’ve refocused their time in the health elements of their life.
“Social media has also played a big role in people feeling like their biological clock is ticking.”
Annette Loy, from Stockleigh, first contacted the Spring Hill clinic after her relationship of nine years ended in 2020.
The 28-year-old has an underlying medical condition which impacted her chance of conceiving and Assoc Prof Yazdani found her egg count had reduced significantly over the course of three months.
She said her decision came down to a feeling of not being ready.
“I guess my career played into it too,” Ms Loy said.
“I’m a lead educator in a pre-kindy room so I do get enough time around little ones every day.
“In saying that, it does hurt being around these kids all day and knowing I might not be able to have one of my own.”
Monash IVF had an even greater statewide increase than Queensland Fertility Group with a 77 per cent rise in women storing their eggs in 2020 compared to the previous year. In the same year, almost twice the number of women under 30 began using their service.
“Egg freezing is much more normalised now than it was even 5 years ago,” medical director Dr Ross Turner said.
“It’s heartening to see more women being pro-active about their fertility and giving their future selves options.”
Dr Turner’s client Lisa, who asked that her last name be omitted, said fertility issues among her friends played into her decision to freeze her eggs.
The 33-year-old general manager from Taringa had her first cycle last month.
“I thought it was better to preserve at 33 than regret at 40,” she said.
“Finding a partner through the pandemic was going to be difficult so that might have played a role but the pandemic wasn’t at the forefront of my decision.”
Dr Devora Lieberman from Chill said she was also increasingly seeing younger women, in their early 30s.
Dr Lieberman said it was important people understood egg freezing couldn’t provide any guarantees.