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Why women are spending thousands to freeze their eggs

Egg freezing emerged in the 1980s as a means to safeguard a woman’s fertility while undergoing treatments like chemotherapy. Initially serving medical purposes, it gradually gained traction as a mainstream fertility preservation method. In Australia, its popularity has surged in recent years. However, it’s crucial to dispel the notion of egg freezing as a guaranteed path to parenthood. The first successful birth from a frozen egg was reported in the 1980s, marking a significant milestone. By the late 1990s, egg freezing was increasingly utilized for fertility preservation in women undergoing treatments jeopardizing their reproductive health. Over time, it transitioned into an option for women to secure viable eggs for future pregnancies.

Today, prominent IVF clinics in Australia, including IVF Australia, Genea, and Monash IVF, offer egg freezing services for medical and non-medical reasons. The decision to freeze eggs is rooted in the understanding that a woman’s reproductive capacity diminishes with age. Typically, fertility peaks in a woman’s mid-20s to early 30s, with natural conception odds around 15% monthly. Beyond age 35, these odds dwindle, reaching only 5% by age 40. Given these biological realities, egg freezing presents a proactive measure for women seeking to preserve their fertility.

Egg freezing has burgeoned into a significant industry in Australia, witnessing a notable uptick in procedures annually. However, its success hinges on the age at which eggs are frozen. IVF Australia suggests that success rates decline after age 35, underscoring the importance of early intervention. Professor Michael Chapman, a leading figure in Australian IVF, advocates for egg freezing before age 35, emphasizing its effectiveness at younger ages.

While egg freezing entails significant costs, ranging from $3000 to over $10,000 depending on clinic and reason (medical or non-medical), it offers peace of mind. However, it’s crucial to temper expectations. Despite advances in technology, success rates hover around 8-9% per egg, with age being a critical determinant. Although egg freezing provides a degree of security, it’s not a guarantee of conception.

Furthermore, the process involves several steps akin to those in IVF, including ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval under anesthesia. While generally safe, there are risks like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Egg freezing underscores the importance of early planning and informed decision-making. As with any medical procedure, individuals should consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice.

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