A new study by researchers at Yale University presented at the at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s conference (ESHRE) in Barcelona shows that the majority of women who freeze their eggs do so because they have not found a partner to have children with.
Vancouver, BC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/26/2018 --A new study by researchers at Yale University presented at the at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology's conference (ESHRE) in Barcelona shows that the majority of women who freeze their eggs do so because they have not found a partner to have children with.
Egg freezing, as a way for a woman to preserve her fertility for the future, is becoming increasingly common with women in their 30s. In addition more and more single women are taking control of their own fertility. Olive Fertility Centre in Vancouver has seen the number of single women coming into the clinic triple since 2013 according to Olive co-director Dr Niamh Tallon.
In the Yale study the researchers analyzed interviews conducted with 150 women, from four IVF clinics in the US and three in Israel, who had completed at least one cycle of egg freezing for social reasons.
More than four in five (85%) of the women did not have partners at the time. Focus on their career was the least common reason given for having their eggs frozen, even among women who worked for companies where egg freezing insurance was offered.
This goes against the current wisdom that women are postponing motherhood and freezing their eggs because they are focusing on advancing their careers according to Marcia Inhorn, a medical anthropologist from Yale University, and one of the authors of the study. "Our study, however, suggests that the lack of a stable partner is the primary motivation," says Inhorn.
"The study reflects what we are seeing at Olive," says Dr Tallon. "From our experience at Olive it's quite clear that the majority of women that are freezing their eggs aren't doing it for career reasons, but are doing it because they are not in a position to have a baby--mostly because they don't have a partner." Dr Tallon sees the growth in egg freezing as an example of women taking charge of their own fertility and family building.
This was exactly the case for Natalie Grunberg, a Victoria teacher. Like many women today, Natalie had just not found the right man to have a child with.
"I didn't delay getting pregnant for any other reason than I couldn't find an appropriate partner. Like many middle class educated professional women, I was unable to find a suitable mate. I spent my 30s pining for Mr Right, so I could get on with creating a family much like the one I grew up in.
However, as I felt the clock ticking faster after 35, I decided I needed to take my fertility into my own hands, and that's when I decided to freeze my eggs."
Not only does the quantity of eggs decline as a woman ages, but the quality declines as well. Poor egg quality leads to a higher rate of infertility, more frequent miscarriages, and a greater risk of chromosomal disorders in the offspring.
"I see women in their late 30s and early 40s who exercise, eat well and look young for their age, and they can't understand why they are having trouble getting pregnant," says Dr Tallon. "The fact is that 40 is not the new 30 when it comes to fertility. Our eggs are exactly as old as we are. We want women to know there is an option for them if they want to preserve their fertility when their eggs are young and healthy, in case they want to get pregnant at a later time."
"Dr Nakhuda, my doctor at Olive, explained that there were no guarantees, but once I decided to go ahead, I gave a mental sigh of relief. I felt that I was taking control of my future. It felt very empowering to realize that I didn't have to wait for the right man to come along--that I could be my own family," says Natalie.
The egg freezing process is exactly the same as traditional IVF. It involves injecting medications that stimulate egg growth to the point they can be harvested. However, instead of fertilizing the eggs with sperm, they are frozen unfertilized and stored until a woman is ready to conceive sometime in the future. At that point, the eggs are thawed and fertilized to hopefully result in viable embryos that can then be transferred into the uterus.
"Egg freezing should not be considered a sure thing," cautions Dr Tallon. "Unfortunately, even freezing numerous eggs cannot guarantee a healthy pregnancy will be possible. However, recent evidence suggests the success of egg freezing is now on par with traditional IVF, and is especially favourable in women under 37."
After freezing her egg at 37 Natalie decided, on her 40th birthday, that she was no longer going to keep looking for "him" but was going to move on and create her own family using her frozen eggs and donor sperm.
However, sometimes life can take an unexpected turn. "At this point, without trying, I had met a delightful man and he was supportive of my chosen path of single motherhood. He was welcome to come along for the ride, but I was no longer on any man's schedule. I had shed my desire to please another person in order to get the family I dreamed of. My life and my family was mine to create. It would take a special man to not be threatened or scared by this reality."
In September, Natalie had an embryo implanted and became pregnant. As the pregnancy progressed she and Philip became closer, and he proposed to her when she was seven months pregnant. When the baby was born on May 29th, the birth certificate included both Natalie and her fiancée's names-- Arieh Gustav Grunberg-Ferreira.
"This summer I will marry my soul mate and Arieh will be there under the chuppah (Jewish marriage canopy) with us. Our son is a miracle to both of us. Every day we are grateful I saved my eggs and that Olive was able to help us create the family we both dreamed of. I have a second embryo and we hope to one day soon add a brother or sister to our happy house."
About Olive Fertility Centre
Located in Vancouver, BC, Olive Fertility Centre is one of Western Canada's largest IVF and prenatal diagnosis centres. With an advanced IVF lab, and innovative programs that include the EmbryoScope, specialized genetic testing, egg freezing, and prenatal NIPT testing, Olive Fertility (olivefertility.com) provides comprehensive fertility care to infertile couples, single women, and same-sex couples.