Egg freezing should be every father's graduation present to his daughter, claims leading fertility expert
Dr Gillian Lockwood said young women are still not getting the message about
infertilityWomen should be freezing their eggs in their early 20s and not waiting until late 30s when they are poor quality
But she cautions such a move could lead to girls missing out on the right man, as they wait for 'Mr Perfect' who does not exist
13:09 GMT, 26 November 2012
In Britain, women are delaying childbirth later than ever: the average age of a woman having her first child is 31
Egg freezing should be every father’s graduation present to his daughter, a leading fertility expert has suggested.
Dr Gillian Lockwood, of the Midland Fertility Centre, where half of Britain’s babies conceived from frozen eggs originated, said young women are still not getting the message about infertility.
She told The Times: ‘One part of me wants to say that [egg freezing] should be every dad’s graduation present for his daughter. It would be a very safe, low dose, and you could have 20 beautiful eggs in the freezer.
'But – and it’s a very big but – I’m concerned about how that would alter a woman’s life choices, that they might think: “Well, instead of having a family with Mr Not Quite Perfect, I can afford to wait for Mr Absolutely perfect”.
In Britain, women are delaying childbirth later than ever: the average woman here has her first child at 31, compared to 24 in 1962.
About 6,500 eggs have been stored in
Britain in the decade since egg freezing was licensed by the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Yet the chances of conceiving a baby from a frozen egg are low, and preparing for it is a painful, costly process involving potent fertility drugs, chemicals and surgery.
Hollywood star Jennifer Aniston is
rumoured to have frozen her eggs, and in a recent episode of the U.S.
reality television show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kim injected
herself with hormones in preparation for doing the same.
But despite egg freezing being something often talked about as a viable option, just 12 babies have been born from frozen eggs in this country.
However this may slowly change after a recent report by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) stated that egg freezing is no longer experimental technology. The organisation has recommended that women freeze their eggs in their 20s and 30s to help them conceive later in life.
And it is timing that is key, says Dr Lockwood. '/11/26/article-2238592-16381E42000005DC-726_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Last year Brigitte Adams decided to freeze her eggs at the age of 38, to safeguard what was left of her fertility” class=”blkBorder” />
Last year Brigitte Adams decided to freeze her eggs at the age of 38, to safeguard what was left of her fertility
‘A frozen egg from a 38-year-old will be better than a fresh one from a 42-year-old, but pregnancy is still not very likely.’
Dr Lockwood added that a 30-year-old who freezes her eggs would have a 30-40 per cent chance of having a child. After 38, this falls to 25 per cent.
And even freezing your eggs at 30 could have its downsides, she said. 'Will it mean a woman waits around all her life for Mr Perfect, knowing she has healthy eggs from her 30-year-old self in the freezer, but then becomes bitter because she has rejected all the Mr Pretty Well Good Enoughs and found herself single and childless at 45, with frozen eggs that turned out not to work’
Other experts have cautioned that egg freezing is by no means a fail-safe insurance policy.
Dr Magdy Asaad, clinical director of the
London Fertility Centre, says the chances of getting a baby from a
frozen egg are about 1 to 3 per cent for each egg.
Also, only eight out of ten eggs survive the thawing process and there are still some concerns about whether egg freezing is effective or safe in terms of the long-term health of children.
There have also been suggestions that chemicals applied to the egg wall during flash-freezing could potentially damage the egg.
Egg freezing is funded by the NHS if carried out for women having cancer treatment. Otherwise it costs 5,000 per cycle, then 200 a year to pay for safe storage of the eggs.
One woman who chose to freeze her eggs was Brigitte Adams. Last year, at the age of 38, she decided to take action to safeguard what was left of her fertility. She told The Times: 'I know I have less than a 30 per cent chance – but it's better than zero chance. I feel I have at least done something proactive and have a back-up plan.'
She has gone on to found the website Eggsurance to encourage other women to think about freezing their eggs as an 'insurance policy' that can be used later.
Ms Adams was 37 when she started thinking about the procedure. 'I just always expected that at my age I would already have kids. I also had some close friends who were either going through difficult IVF treatments or looking into the adoption process.
'I contacted a fertility doctor in my city who told me to “just get pregnant”. Not exactly what I wanted to hear.'
She adds that she assumed because she ate well and exercised that she must have a healthy supply of eggs. 'So I was surprised when I learned that maternal age directly correlates to the health of your eggs.'
Her family were incredibly supportive, she says. 'My parents were all for it and even offered to pay for some of the treatment costs. My friends, on the other hand, were shocked initially as they did not know anybody who had had their eggs frozen.
'However, once I explained the procedure to them they were extremely supportive and of great help. You really need a strong support system through a process like this as it is both physically and emotionally challenging.'