Olive Fertility Centre has seen a surge in the number of individuals seeking egg freezing over the last five years.
“We are seeing more people in their 30s who are not yet in a position to have a family, because of finances, career or most often they just haven’t found the right partner,” says fertility expert Dr. Kristy Cho of Olive Fertility Centre. “They are deciding to take control of their fertility by freezing their eggs.”
This was the case for Natalie Grunberg-Ferreira, a Victoria-based businesswoman and owner of the award-winning Natural Hair Salon. Like many thirty-something women today, Natalie had not yet found the right partner to have a child with and was feeling her biological clock ticking.
“I didn't delay getting pregnant for any other reason than I couldn't find an appropriate partner,” says Grunberg-Ferreira. “Like many educated, professional women, I was unable to find a suitable mate. I spent my 30s looking 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. Cho. “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 later.”
The egg freezing process is 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 flash frozen with a process called vitrification 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.
Natalie was aware that freezing her eggs was not a guarantee that she would be able to have a baby in the future. However, recent evidence suggests the success of egg freezing is now on par with traditional IVF and is especially favourable in women who freeze their eggs at 37 or younger.
According to Dr. Cho, success rates depend on the age of the eggs and the total number of eggs frozen. “There is never a guarantee of how many eggs a woman will grow in a treatment cycle, but we try to project the total number by using Anti-Mullarian Hormone (AMH) values. Women with higher AMH values will tend to have more eggs retrieved. AMH levels do not tell us much about egg quality but in general, having more eggs with IVF gives a higher success rate.”
On her 40th birthday, Natalie decided that she was no longer going to keep looking for “the one” but was going to move on and create her own family using her frozen eggs and donor sperm.
"I really thought that was a good idea and really empowering," says Grunberg-Ferreira.
However, sometimes life can take an unexpected turn. While she was undergoing treatment, she met the man who would become her husband. She is now married and the mom of two boys, both conceived with her frozen eggs.
“Every day we are grateful I saved my eggs, and that Olive Fertility was able to help us create the family we both dreamed of,” says Grunberg-Ferreira.
Olive Fertility Centre offers patients the option to book a same-day, no-fee, virtual referral appointment through www.olivefertility.com/how-to-book The referral will be automatically sent to Olive Fertility and a member of our intake team will contact you shortly thereafter to book your fertility appointment.