In today’s modern society, our lives are incredibly busy. We’re stuck juggling so many different responsibilities, and sometimes it’s easy to stop thinking about ourselves. For women, this includes our own fertility potential. Sadly, by the time a lot of women decide they’re ready for a baby of their own, it is no longer a viable option due to poor egg quality. I mention this because it’s a terrible situation that I hear more and more about each day. Take a friend of mine, for example. She’s 41, single, and the CEO of an amazing startup…She recently decided that she’d like to have her own biological child one day in the near future.
While she’s not quite ready yet, she made the responsible decision to go and see a doctor for hormone testing and an ultrasound to test the quality of her ovarian reserve. These would be the hopeful first steps to freezing her eggs for future use. My friend knew the statistics, however. During her anxious wait for results, we had numerous conversations about the possible outcome, which always resulted in her becoming emotional.
You see, the quantity and quality of a woman’s eggs, along with her ability to reproduce, begins to diminish by her late 20’s. By their mid 30’s, women’s fertility potential is declining rapidly and most will become infertile by their mid 40’s. This does not leave a lot of time to make such big decisions, especially when there are so many factors involved.
On the day that my friend received her results, she called and was filled with great sadness. The doctors had told her that she’d waited too long and the probability for her to have a child using her own eggs was very slim. Due to her extremely low ovarian reserve, freezing her eggs was not an option the doctor recommended. It would take multiple egg freezing cycles, and even then, she may not produce enough viable eggs for a child.
In an effort to help her understand why this was not a good option, I explained the strain that these cycles can put on a woman. Not just physically, but also mentally and financially. It would mean multiple rounds of hormonal medication to stimulate her eggs for the retrievals. Hard enough under normal circumstances, but the older women are, the more stimulation they will need. This is extremely taxing on our bodies, along with our wallets, as the drugs needed for a situation like hers would cost upwards of $5,000 per cycle. Noting that all of these labors would likely still not result in a child, I suggested that she consider other options.
Alternatives, such as adoption or a donor egg, will still provide the opportunity for a woman to become a mother. Even in my friend’s situation, where her Hispanic-Italian ethnicity is very important to her, there are other options. She yearns for the chance to pass down her heritage and multicultural ethnicity, so I explained that with donor eggs she could choose individuals with a similar background to her own. There was also the option to adopt from places like Cuba or Italy.
Receiving the kind of news that my friend did is an extremely emotional occurrence for women at any age. Not only are you grieving the chance to have your own biological child, but you’re also forced to reevaluate each of the choices you’ve made throughout your life.
If there’s one thing to be learned from this story, it’s to take control of your own biological clock at an early age. While you may not be ready for a child in your mid-20’s, exploring your own fertility potential at this point will allow you to be more prepared when it comes to planning for your future family. Having the opportunity and technology for a woman to freeze their eggs is one of the greatest gifts available. It frees you from the stresses and pressure so many women face every day while they struggle to balance love, career, and preparing for their future families.