We talk about the biological clock ticking and women putting off having children to follow a career.
But do we really understand what that means and what the implications are?
Our chronological age is the clearest indication we have of the age of our eggs because we’re born with them and they age with us. If you’re 35, your eggs are 35 too.
The problem is, the older your eggs the less fit they are to conceive a baby.
And here’s the rub – when women defer having a baby they get caught up in a double bind.
They’re still pursuing a career in their 30s so they fall back on the option of freezing their eggs – their 30-plus-year-old eggs. Are women leaving it too late to freeze their eggs?
Stats show more and more women are finding themselves in this situation. In 2016, 1,173 women decided to freeze their eggs, twice the number who did in 2014.
Recent stats put figures on what I’ve been saying for years, that eggs over 30 years old don’t fertilise easily and the chances that IVF will be successful diminishes with each passing year.
In fact eight out of 10 frozen eggs don’t survive and for older women babies result with fewer than four in 100 frozen eggs. Even in under-35s it’s just eight babies from 100 frozen eggs.
A recent analysis of 15 years of IVF births by the Newcastle Fertility Centre cautioned that women may have to go through five cycles of IVF before it’s successful and that women aged 35 and over could need to harvest in the region of 30 eggs for freezing to achieve the baby they crave.
So how could you improve your chances? Well, first of all you should realise that leaving it late to freeze your eggs is a real threat to your fertility.
Then you could forward plan and freeze your eggs in your early 20s when they’re still young and fertile.
Study co-author Dr Mario Mascarenhas, from Leeds Fertility Clinic, said: “The chances of having a baby can improve if eggs are stored early in life.
“For young, fit women with no fertility issue the success of egg freezing may be much greater.”
It’s time women realised they can’t just flick a switch and get pregnant.
Your biological clock simply doesn’t work like that.
This is wake-up call for women.
Putting off starting a family should be part of a long-range plan where freezing your eggs is a first step, not the last one.