IVF, fertility and egg freezing – the conversation we need to have
We are living in a fast developing and changing society where people are able to be more organised, live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. We are becoming more educated, more ambitious, working more efficiently and using all technologies available to us for faster and more accurate results.
Women in this day and age also work more than ever before. In closing the gaps between genders and having more challenging career goals, the result is often the delayed start of a family. For some women family is not something that they wish to pursue, for others it is a life-long goal, as such every woman has right to decide on their future life with or without having children.
As a doctor who looks after women throughout their childbearing age I have realised how little information is available on natural processes of conception, pregnancy and motherhood, and just how important it is to start the conversation on fertility with every woman.
Clearly the majority of information surrounding IVF in the media is regarding the fertility clinics and services available for women get to fall pregnant, IVF success rates, and success stories of women conceiving through IVF at later stages of their live. We often hear in the media coverage on celebrities that had their first child later in their lives – even at fifty!
Although this is not impossible it could be painful, traumatic and expensive experience.
All of us – including health professionals – forget that the Mother Nature has her own rules!
We are born with a large number of eggs which slowly reduce during the course of a woman’s life. As we age, we gradually lose eggs and they also become “old”, “ill” and undergo genetic changes often rendering them unsuitable for producing a child.
As per a recent survey held by the University of Melbourne only 50% of young women’s had a full understanding of when their fertility declines significantly.
At CBD Doctors Melbourne we look after young women.
There are a large number of women that have not given consideration to becoming a mother. Others have given consideration, thought have prioritized other goals in life first. Then there are those that have not yet found a suitable partner.
Mother Nature has not changed the rules over the centuries – woman can have a perfect partner, the white picket fence, travel the world and have a dream job at the age of fifty.
When it comes to motherhood at fifty – it is not impossible, but it is very difficult!
The biggest hurdle in motherhood after forty is eggs. Whilst now we live longer and lead a far healthier lifestyle, our eggs still age the same way as they did over previous centuries.
To overcome a lack of eggs, which I believe is the biggest enemy of infertility later in life, women can take a control over their family earlier by having their eggs collected, frozen and stored for a later date. These eggs can then be accessed for if and when a woman chooses to have a child.
The majority of developed countries have an age limit for which a woman can use their own eggs for IVF. This age limit is usually between 43 to 45 years of age.
Let’s talk about it! It is very difficult to raise the topic of childbirth with a woman in their 40s. If a woman has preserved her eggs at right time, they can be utilised at this age. Conversely if eggs have not been preserved, using an egg donor may be the only viable option.
We live in multicultural society where some of the cultures would not accept egg donation due to different reasons. At the CBD Doctors Melbourne we are happy to discuss all options available – fertility, IVF, preserving fertility, egg freezing – and the cultural differences and cultural expectations surrounding these processes.
If there is one message to take away from this article, it would be this:
For those that are concerned about the journey – stimulation, IVF, stress, egg freezing, donation, weight, hormones. Remember that this may be one of few processes in life where it is not the journey that matters in the end – as long as it results with a new life!
Dr Jelena Radosavljevic
Practice Principal, CBD Doctors Melbourne