THE BLOG

How Would You Like Your Eggs?

21/02/2014 18:03 GMT | Updated 23/04/2014 10:59 BST

Boiled, fried, poached or frozen? Sorry frozen did you say? Yes, it's a random question I know but how many young ladies are considering this option to preserve their fertility for years to come?

This is a whole new concept for the fertility market and recent advances in technology now mean it is possible to freeze your eggs for years to come.

A little known fact is that women are born with all their eggs and as age advances, the supply of eggs decreases. Once a woman reaches 35 her ovulation halves, so instead of releasing an egg once a month, her supply of eggs dwindles and the body clings on to them so releases eggs less often.

In this day and age, many young women attend university, focus on their careers, and don't even settle down in to a relationship until their 30s and it is becoming more and more common to start thinking about children in their late 30s or early 40s when her best fertile years have passed.

For many women who are trying to conceive in this age bracket, conception is difficult and then they are faced with the prospect of undergoing IVF, which can be expensive and is less successful on women of advanced maternal age.

Anna Hosford, Clinic Director at Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) explained, "When we opened our doors in 2002, it was common practice to slow freeze embryo's, and slow freezing didn't work on eggs because an egg is mainly made from water. Ice crystals would form and the integrity of the egg was no good when defrosted. However in 2007, we started using a new method for freezing called 'vitrification', which fast freezes embryo's and eggs in liquid nitrogen, the defrost process is also quite instantaneous and means a young fresh egg can be used years later and can be as good as using a fresh egg for an IVF cycle."

The first UK live birth from using vitrification was only reported in August 2008, when the method was used at University College Hospital in Cardiff, some 18 months after the technique was first used in Barbados. Now seven years on, and BFC are reporting a 50% success rate on frozen embryos. This is double the UK national average for Frozen Embryo Transfers (FET). The Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority (HFEA) figures for 2007 show that success rates FET in the UK was only 22% on women under 35. Since the introduction of vitrification, which is still not common practice in UK IVF units, the HFEA figures for 2011 show FET cycles in the UK have only slightly improved to 24.6%.

So when you look at the facts, perhaps it's not such an odd concept for women in their 20's to think about freezing their eggs now and having a much better chance of conceiving with these younger fresher eggs in later life. It's something that wasn't available 10 years ago and women who are struggling with infertility now would do anything to turn back the clock to their more fertile years.

Many women in their 20's may not consider this to be a priority but when weighing up the cost of fertility treatment, you are currently looking at around £10,000 for private treatment in the UK and depending on how long until treatment is actually needed this cost will only continue to rise!

So ladies, forget saving for the boob enhancement, it's about freezing your young fresh eggs these days!