Women are choosing to have children at a later point in their lives, but as their fertility decreases the older a woman gets it becomes more difficult to conceive.
But some childless women are taking steps to try and prevent any problems when and if they decide to have children – by freezing their eggs.
The procedure has become more commonly known thanks to several famous faces speaking out about their own experiences including Rita Ora, This Morning Dr Zoe, Love Island's Amy Hart and Vicky Pattison, who has spoken about considering the idea.
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Amy Hart recently appeared on Loose Women where she explained how she underwent a 'Fertility MOT' after concerns she may go through early menopause like her mum and grandmother.
She explained that while her doctors had reassured her, her egg count was normal, there were indicators that she could become peri-menopausal.
While she hasn't frozen her eggs quite yet, Amy revealed she's planning on doing it in March, even if she meets a man before then, saying: "because I'm not going to live my life by whatever man I'll meet."
Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at King's College Hospital Dr Shree Datta, who also works with feminine care brand Intimina, explained to OK! online the reasons why egg freezing has become a more common option for childless women who are not ready but still want the option of biological children.
"We know that women are delaying the age at which they have children, be it for work or social reasons. As a result, more and more women are considering egg freezing in their late twenties or thirties.
"In some cases, women are encouraged and funded by their employer to do this!"
Dr Datta continued: "For some, it provides some reassurance of being able to have a baby when they are ready and more settled in life. For a minority of women, they may be encouraged to freeze their eggs if they are having medical treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer."
Back in 2017 on an Australian chat show Rita Ora revealed that she had completed the procedure in her early twenties, on recommendation from her doctor.
In her words: “He said, ‘You’re healthy now and it would be great; why not put them away and then you never have to worry about it again?’”
But Dr Datta warns that while it may seem like the perfect solution there are serious things to consider: "Things to think about include timing of treatment as you will have regular ultrasound tracking and you will need to self inject yourself with hormones.
"If you’re travelling during this time you’ll have to think about how to store the medication at the correct temperature and make sure you’re free at the correct time to inject yourself with the right hormones."
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Side effects of the treatment can lead to some pelvic bloating or heaviness, irritability and transient weight gain – similar to having PMS for some women.
She continues: "The actual process of egg collection can be done under sedation or general anaesthetic. Look at the clinic success rate in relation to your age before deciding where to go as well as the costs involved."
Egg collection and freezing is expensive and costs around £5,000 in the UK. Storage costs are extra, around £150 to £400 a year.
This Morning's Dr Zoe Williams spoke out about her own journey, explaining that as a 40-something-old "single-ish" woman who definitely wanted children she felt the procedure was necessary.
"I paid thousands of pounds to freeze my eggs, storing seven in total, which was deemed to be 'not bad, for my age'.
"How do I feel about my decision? I just wish I’d done it sooner; the difference in both the number and the quality of your eggs aged 30 compared to eight years later is hugely significant," she wrote in a column for Marie Claire.
Beauty and Health
Dr Datta says that women should be serious about considering egg freezing however the timeframe in which you can store your eggs will play a huge factor.
"I think any woman who wants to have a family but is finding the timing isn’t quite right should consider egg freezing.
"Yes it is a medical procedure with risks but the long-term benefits outweigh the risks if its right for the individual person. You should remember that in the UK you can only store your eggs for a maximum of ten years, which may influence when you choose to undergo the procedure."
Other stars like Vicky Pattison have been open to considering it, as she said at 31 she would have the procedure "to take the pressure off" her relationship with her boyfriend Ercan Ramadan because she knew she wanted children but just not yet.
Vicky admitted: "I don’t want the door to close. There’s options. So, I can freeze my eggs.
"I just think it’ll take a little bit of pressure off the way I’m feeling. I’d love to have children the traditional way, I’m just taking precautions."
Dr Datta praised celebs for speaking out: "I think it’s great that people are considering egg freezing and talking about their experiences because it’s not for everyone and in some cases you may need to have three rounds of treatment.
"However, it can be very successful and give women the peace of mind they need.
But she added: "Don’t forget the approximate chance of actually having a baby using frozen eggs is around 2-10 per cent per egg depending on your age and the quality of eggs."
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