Dr. Nikki Goldstein: Why egg freezing is not a guaranteed insurance policy
It is not uncommon to be faced with the dreaded question, Why are you still single? In fact, women have embraced it more these days either as a form of empowerment, self-identity or simply exploring life’s horizons. Whatever the reason, the harsh reality of the ticking biological clock still stands and the pressure for women to choose between their career and love lingers in the mind, that was of course was until egg freezing came along. But why do women do it? What is their main driving force? Fertility experts say it is time to chose wisely but it is not a guaranteed insurance policy.
“Egg freezing was always at the back of my mind, it was something that I always wanted to do”, says Dr. Nikki Goldstein a 29-year-old successful Sydney Sexologist and Relationship Expert at the time who reached the point in her life where she began to wonder if she would find her clichéd Mr. Right. Being a polished and sophisticated business woman, working between Australia and LA, one would find it difficult to imagine her without a sterling partner to compliment her social and lavish lifestyle.
After much time spent on the dating scene and strenuous public responsibilities of giving out relationship advice the pressure began to mount. The idea of egg freezing was introduced to her as a backup plan by a friend whilst writing and researching information for her debut book #Singlebutdating. Her 30th birthday was fast approaching and despite society telling her she was still young, she then discovered her egg reserves didn’t correspond to the “I’m still young” myth after a professional consultation with a fertility expert at the Genea clinic in Sydney.
According to the Fertility North clinic the average age of a first pregnancy in Australia is now over 30 years with 20 per cent of these pregnancies to women over the age of 35. In fact, the quality and quantity of female eggs produced each month begins to diminish from the age of 30.
“We are losing eggs and the quality of eggs at a rapid rate, our bodies are not changing with society” says, Dr. Nikki Goldstein.
Walking into the fertility rooms at Genea a world leading fertility clinic in Sydney much like Dr. Nikki Goldstein’s experience, it was quite confronting, surrounded by hopeful couples and even young single women looking to safe guard their future fertility. I sat on the comfy couch whilst filling in the appointment form answering all the personal questions relating to my fertility, which made me feel like I was filing out a bank application and essentially preparing a fertility insurance policy. Would this guarantee my future and those of Australian women as it might do for Dr Nikki Goldstein
Here are some of the steps to break down the process you might consider when freezing your eggs:
Seeing a Fertility GP- General practitioner
As I indulged deeper into the subject, I knew my first step was to see a fertility GP to find out for myself. The Genea clinic in Sydney provides an assessment as to where you are placed in the fertility chart based on age and egg reserves, much like Dr. Nikki Goldstein went through, which brings clarity to the question is it right for you and me?
The AMH Testing – Ovary reserve checks
After deciding to undergo AMH (Anti- Mullerian Hormone) testing, a blood test that women undertake to determine their ovarian reserves, Dr Nikki Goldstein was hit with the harsh reality that even at 29, her eggs were just as old as she was and that should she decide to freeze her eggs the follicle quantities she produced were only at a 30-40 per cent chance return on her investment. This highlighted that freezing eggs at a younger age should be the optimum solution if considering to be a mother in the future according to research conducted by IVF Australia.
The Egg freezing process is broken up into three stages;
Stage one: Stimulating the ovaries
The initial process to freezing your eggs commences with stimulating ovaries through hormone injections over a two week period, a process Dr Nikki Goldstein executed through her public video diary (http://drnikki.com.au/egg-freezing-documentary/) documenting her daily emotions with a Sony blogging camera to show the world the reality.
Stage two: Collecting the eggs
Once the eggs are stimulated the eggs are collected through surgical methods once the ovaries are at their optimum levels. According to Dr. Nikki Goldstein it became truly emotional for her as she describes she took a turn for the worst once her eggs were collected.
Stage three: Treating the eggs
Once the eggs have been collected they are treated into storage of which they do depreciate like that of a car as the years go on in the freezer.
Prior to undergoing this process Dr. Nikki Goldstein was dating just two days before beginning her egg freezing journey however she broke up with her partner and compared this experience to post egg freezing as having more time to for her career. “Having the eggs in the freezer helps me get that element of going to chase my dreams, but it is not a full proof plan”, she says
The cost of egg freezing
The affordability of such a procedure poses the question of accessibility to women in Australia considering the procedure, given it is not something the Australian Government offer a rebate on, Australia still however remains more affordable with costs starting at $7,000 as opposed to $10,000-$15,000 in America.
Dr. Devora Liberman a fertility expert says, “It is not an insurance policy, there is only a 50 per cent chance of having a baby after egg freezing and only 10 per cent of women come back to use their egg”. Despite the rise of egg freezing continuing much like the LA craze of egg freezing martini parties led by Dr. Aimee (Egg Whisperer) trending socially, Dr. Liberman is pleased to see younger women are being more informed.
Luckily for Dr. Nikki Goldstein, who now lives a more stress free love life dating and returning for a second cycle. She encourages Australian women to become more informed with the idea whilst highlighting that it is not for everybody, nor is it an insurance policy.