RACHEL CORBETT: "What I didn't realise about freezing my eggs."


As women, our fertility is a constant topic of conversation, especially in our 30s. But I’m always amazed how little we really know about something we spend so much time talking about.

I guess it’s because, despite understanding the limitations of our biology, it’s not something you start talking about until you’re on the downhill slide to 40. Then all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of conversations about a couple of things you’ve been carrying around for over three decades but don’t know much about.

When I started the process of investigating my reproductive health, I realised there were so many things I hadn’t thought about or had never really had reason to investigate. When I said “I’m going to look into whether I need to freeze my eggs” I didn’t even think that would mean I’d have to go through the early stages of IVF. I’m not sure if I thought I could just pop them out like a chicken but I guess I’d just never really given it much thought.

So, in the interests of helping you not look like an idiot (I’ve done enough of that for both of us during this process), here are some things I’ve discovered about freezing your eggs…

You might not be able to do it

Before someone pokes around in there you need to make sure you’re a “good candidate” and the first way to do that is to check your levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH). When the doctor told me that’s what he was testing for I started asking friends why I needed to be tested for ‘malaria.’ Clearly, I need to put fresh batteries in the hearing aid.

After this, you need to get additional blood tests and an ultrasound before they can work out if you’re ripe for the picking.

"When I tried to freeze my eggs, I was surprised by how little I knew."


You better get comfy with needles

To harvest your eggs you're going to have to give your ovaries a little hormonal assistance with daily self-administered injections. I remember friends of mine who went through IVF talking about this and I never realised I'd need to do the same. If you're not a needle person, I've read it's small if that's any consolation?

If you've got a partner you might ask him to lend you some sperm

Turns out frozen embryos have a higher success rate than frozen eggs on their own, so if you're in a relationship and you're not ready to have kids just yet, this might be a discussion worth having.

Your success rate depends on how old you are when you freeze your eggs

This is probably a good argument for thinking about this before you turn 35 (note to self) because putting your eggs on ice is an insurance policy but it's not a foolproof one.

Listen: Holly, Mia and Jessie discuss babies in your 40s. (Post continues after audio...)

Here are the success rates for women 35 and UNDER...

  • one stimulated cycle would result in the collection of 10 – 12 eggs
  • 7 – 9 of those eggs would be suitable for vitrification and storage
  • Approximately 80-90 per cent of those eggs would survive warming in the future
  • Approximately 50-80 per cent of the eggs that survive warming would fertilise
  • Approximately 80-90 per cent of fertilised eggs would develop into embryos
  • A single embryo would have a 20-35 per cent chance of developing into a pregnancy

According to IVF Australia, egg freezing in women over the age of 38 is unlikely to lead to a pregnancy... I'd better get a move on.

It's not cheap

You can't whip out your Medicare card for this procedure, so if this is something you want to do you might want to start dropping money in the piggy bank. Freezing your eggs costs around $10,000 not including the tests beforehand. Once they're on ice you also need to pay to keep them there, which costs around $500 a year.

So, if you're thinking about freezing your eggs, hopefully this will prevent you looking from looking a complete idiot. If nothing else, at least you'll know you're not being tested for malaria #facepalm

Rachel Corbett is Mamamia’s Director of Podcasts.  She’s also a writer, TV/radio presenter and the creator of the online podcasting course,

Rachel currently hosts two podcasts including You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere and the PodSchool Podcast.  She’s also never been to a John Farnham concert where she didn’t cry (tears of joy).

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