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Friday, April 15, 2011

"Time to Chill" by Nancy Hass - Vogue Article

Past the glossy pages of this month's issue of Vogue Magazine (May 2011), there's a thoughtful article about egg freezing and what it could represent for women's reproductive future.

Egg freezing in an attempt to stop the proverbial "biological clock" from going off is becoming more and more mainstream thanks in part to a greater awareness of infertility issues and recent scientific breakthroughs.

Some important thoughts and questions are discussed here, some of which have been brought up in earlier articles and blog entries. One that really struck with me was whether egg freezing was giving women a false sense of security of their future ability to have a family when the perfect career and partner have been crossed-off the To-Do-List. Furthermore, while a woman may undergo several cycles in order to accumulate enough oocytes to freeze, how many cycles will it take to guarantee that one will be able to develop into a healthy baby?

I for one have produced well over 80 oocytes (through monitored cycles) and (thankfully) have now only one child to show for my many cycles. If one's odds of conceiving is about 50/50 (at a good clinic), I'm not sure where that leaves us. I know some women conceived on their first cycle, while others have done close to ten and are still trying. Or during one cycle I produced 28 eggs (thanks to PCOS) but none took.

Another important question is how late can you wait until you are ready to have those eggs turn into embryos and be transferred back to you? One of the pieces that I wrote that seems to get the most hits is my "That's not my grandchild" entry, where I discussed older women giving birth/becoming mothers in their 60's and even 70's. I know many were outraged that it was even legal for women who were well into their menopausal years to be given access to donor eggs.

Honestly, I still haven't made up my mind on this one. If you have the foresight of freezing your eggs at 30, have a great career and/or not finding the right partner for you, or simply that you just weren't mentally or financially there yet, then shouldn't you technically be allowed to claim your eggs at 50 to finally take the plunge? Unlike traditional egg donations, these frozen eggs are yours. I'm sure this must be hotly debated amongst bio-ethisits.

I know I'm raising more questions than I'm answering (not the typical format of this blog), but those are all valid questions to ponder and I'm sure you'll have many of your own. Please share them with me.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read the "Time to Chill " article and I think it may send out the wrong message to young women. It's still a relatively "new" technology and the 50/50 success rate coupled with the steep cost is not impressive. Yet, I believe many young women may run off with the idea that if they freeze their eggs now, they can focus on their careers through their 30s and 40s without a care in the world. I am 32 with a spunky, energetic, cute as a button 3 year old. Infertility would have devastated me. I think it's important to educate young women about the real possibility of infertility early on, like in high school or college. Career/Family priorities need to be made early on.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I can't help but consider this a rather selfish notion. If you really want a child then you should be willing to make the sacrifices to have the child when your body is able to do so. This is getting too close to the whole 'designer' baby idea. I say 'designer' not because you are choosing any specific aspects of the baby, but because you are going out with nature to choose a time that suits you best. I just find the whole concept rather like you want a child but just not enough, in which case why have any?

Also, we have no idea what issues the freezing of eggs may result in decades down the line, it's still too new a practice. We have been doing kidney transplants for decades and are only now seeing some negative (but serious) side effects. We brought in the contraceptive pill decades ago but are only now seeing the negative side effects of that. We had blood donors, but failed to realise that certain conditions could be passed on through them. Science should be utilised as an absolute last resort, NOT as a consideration prior to even trying all other routes, because we have to be honest with ourselves (and I am a scientist) and admit that we simply do not know the long-term effects that freezing will have on the child that is then born.

Please, if you really want children then prioritise having children and go about it the way nature intended, this method presents the least possible risk to your child. But then I guess it depends whether you really care about your future child's wellbeing or you getting what you want.

Bernadette & Duane said...

From a gal who was diagnosed with with POF at 26, I do think egg freezing has its place. Having watched both my older sister and I suffer from infertility, I have urged my younger 21 year old sister to have her FSH checked. Given our family history, I would love to see her freeze her eggs so that she never has to deal with the devastation of infertility.

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