A woman’s biological clock doesn’t have to dictate when she starts a family. Dr. Marjorie Dixon speaks about the options available for women who want to be in control of their family building.  

Mediaplanet: What is fertility preservation?

Dr. Marjorie Dixon: Fertility preservation is a process in which an individual would save or protect eggs, sperm, or reproductive tissue for future reproductive use. Traditionally, such methods were used for those who experienced an illness that negatively affected their reproductive health: ie, cancer. Today, women are using fertility preservation, and specifically egg freezing, to open and strengthen their future family-building opportunities.

MP: The quality and quantity of a woman’s egg supply begins to decline significantly after age 30. What fertility-preserving options are available?

MD: Unfortunately, women’s fertility health has not caught up with the social needs of today. By the time a woman is 30, her ovaries have been depleted of 90 percent of their eggs. Fortunately, the remaining 10 percent of eggs are relatively well-functioning. By the time she is 40, she will have depleted 97 percent of her eggs, with the remaining 3 percent being of relatively poor quality.

MP: What is egg freezing?

MD: To keep things simple for everyone to understand, eggs are the largest cells of the human body. A fertility specialist provides a woman interested in fertility preservation with medication to produce many eggs over a number of days. When the follicles containing the eggs are of an acceptable size, the doctor retrieves the eggs and an embryologist freezes them for future use. Luckily, we now have technology that allows us to freeze eggs for almost forever, with next to no bad effects.

MP: Who can benefit from egg freezing?

MD: There isn’t a “one size fits all” when it comes to fertility preservation for women. Women are all genetically different and have had different environmental exposures.
However, generally speaking, the earlier a woman freezes her eggs, the better her egg quality. Today, we see most women freezing their eggs between the ages of 35 and 38 years, but a woman may freeze her eggs any time before the age of 41. Egg freezing is a fertility-preservation opportunity that most women can benefit from. It empowers women to be in control of their future family building and make it precisely what they want it to look like.

MP: How can the option of fertility preservation empower women?

MD: Egg freezing empowers women to be the writers of their own life stories, by relieving them from the pressures of time. When the worry of the eggs’ expiry date is taken off the table, it allows a woman to focus on her education, career, travelling, and perhaps taking the necessary time when looking for the right partner, if desired.   

MP: When should I talk to my doctor about fertility preservation?

MD: All women should be aware of their biological clock. I would recommend that all women have a fertility checkup between the ages of 25 and 30. There are factors that their family doctor can ask them about or see on their health history, as well as simple blood tests that can be ordered which could alert to potential fertility issues. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, LADIES!

For more information about fertility, visit: http://fertilitymatters.ca.