Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saving Your Bacon

by Edward Hugh

This suggestion by fertility expert Gillian Lockwood has not been getting the coverage it deserves. Lockwood argues that women who are thinking of postponing childbirth should take the precautionary measure of having some eggs frozen. I think this is an excellent, cost effective and very practical suggestion. Basically I would go further than Lockwood and suggest that any women who wants a child eventually but is postponing beyond 25 be encouraged to do this as a precautionary measure at that age. Not because at 25 the issue is pressing, but precisely because it isn't. This means the decision could become a routine one. I think we should have massive public health campaigns about this just as we do with tobacco. That way many women can avoid having the ultimate disappointment later on, and, of course, collectively fertility would almost certainly go up.

" Women expecting to have children in their late thirties or forties should freeze their eggs if they want to boost the odds, a British fertility expert said.

Fertility expert Gillian Lockwood told a conference in Glasgow that women thinking of delaying motherhood should freeze their eggs to avoid finding out that they had "missed the boat".

A woman in her forties will have better chances of giving birth using eggs frozen in her thirties than using fresh eggs, Lockwood told the British Fertility Society conference at the University of Strathclyde.

A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have, meaning they age at the same rate she does. Women's fertility is known to plummet after the age of 35.

"It's the age of the egg, not the age of the womb, which determines the miscarriage rate," Lockwood said.

"Once an egg is frozen, it is frozen in time and there is no decay or damage and the chance of healthy pregnancy is about one in four. That is not great, but it is all a normally fertile couple have the old- fashioned way, about a one in four chance every month," Lockwood said.

Just two last points. I wouldn't put it like Lockwood does, since I doubt many women at 25 are actually planning to have children at 40, this is just something that happens, so I would word it 'if you are thinking of postponing'. This should be in the sex education for the girls in school. Secondly, given the odds that Lockwood outlines, I would recommend freezing 4 eggs, and then after doing this going out and replenishing the system with a good old-fashioned English breakfast, over-easy or sunny side up, it doesn't matter, the nutritional benefit is the same.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You might want to think about the "cost" of donating eggs. I'm not sure the dollar cost, but it's not much fun getting a lot of shots and having eggs extracted for IVF. Not sure if the same procedure is used for run-of-the-mill storage.

Also, the timing (age 25) seems a bit dramatic here. Population-level infertility doesn't seem to be a large effect until women are well into their late-30s.