By NATALIA HAWK
“Maybe you should freeze your eggs?”
It was 2009, and I was sitting at the kitchen table with a friend, drinking tea and discussing the PCOS diagnosis I’d just received.
You might know about polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) already – after all, it affects a significant percentage of women. Monash University estimates about 10-15% of women have the hormonal condition which can cause reduced chances of fertility.
My PCOS was bad. And to hinder the situation further, an ultrasound had discovered an orange-sized cyst on my left ovary – an ovary that would probably have to be removed along with the cyst.
I was 18 years old and facing the prospects of turning 19 with only one dysfunctional ovary. And it was fucking depressing.
I’d just started my first year of university, and I was surrounded by people who spent their days drinking at noon and skipping philosophy lectures. Meanwhile, I was having long conversations about my future prospects of infertility with various doctors and trying to come up with the best way forward.
The biggest problem was the amount of scare-mongering and misinformation I received from medical professionals. My GP told me that I would probably never have children but “we’ll see what happens”.
Another doctor told me that I better not wait too long because fertility starts to decline significantly after the age of 25. Another doctor told me that it was actually at the age of 30 that I’d be a bit screwed. Many of my friends and well-meaning acquaintances suggested that I freeze my eggs, just in case.
I did some research, but there are conflicting statistics everywhere. And it seems that I’m not the only one confused. A recent post written by Louise Johnson, CEO of the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority, confirmed that only 25% of women can identify when their fertility actually starts to decline.
The age at which a woman’s fertility starts to decline is about 32 and then fertility declines more rapidly in the mid to late 30s. By age 40, a woman’s fertility has halved.
Understandably, it’s all led to a bit of panic. A bit of pressure towards those who have reached their 30s and yet not settled down with a significant other and a baby. Dr David Knight of Sydney IVF clinic, Demeter Fertility, said that egg freezing has increased in popularity and demand – now, woman as young as 25 are given the opportunity to freeze their eggs to slow down the so-called biological clock.