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The other day an elderly friend of mine asked me to talk to her college going daughter, who had told her parents she had no objections in getting married but didn’t want to have children. The parents being from a generation when this could not be an option, were shocked. And they’re not the only ones.

There are many young Indian women and couples, who are deciding not to have children. Last year, Sidra Aziz tweeted about choosing not to have kids and had to face a lot of flak.

This decision has been stirring the conversation towards egg freezing, especially after the pandemic. According to a BBC report last year, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said over 4,000 patients froze their eggs in 2021, compared to 2,500 in 2019.

Egg freezing is the process of retrieval of eggs from the woman’s ovaries and freezing them for later use when the woman feels she is ready for conception and pregnancy.

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As per Plum, nearly 30% of working women express openness to considering egg freezing as a viable option, and another 50% would consider it if they could learn a little more about it. A substantial 91% of women are willing to engage in discussions about egg freezing with their family and friends. However, only 2% of working women have undergone the egg freezing procedure. 

The study cited that egg-freezing decisions involve navigating various factors such as age-related fertility concerns, relationship plans, career aspirations, financial considerations, insurance coverage and personal health. Striking a delicate balance among these elements is crucial for those contemplating fertility preservation through egg freezing.

Increased media awareness has led to a rise in inquiries, challenging previous taboos around discussing fertility issues

Dr. Nupur Gupta, Director-Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram & senior gynaecologist from Plum Telehealth

Dr. Nupur Gupta, Director-Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram and senior gynaecologist from Plum Telehealth, said, “The average age of women opting for egg freezing is now 30-35 years due to declining fertility post-30s. Increased media awareness has led to a rise in inquiries, challenging previous taboos around discussing fertility issues.”

In societies like Japan, where the declining birthrate is a grave concern, egg freezing could be the answer.

Under the Tokyo metropolitan government subsidy program, a Tokyo resident woman between the ages of 18 and 39 can receive up to 200,000 yen from the government for the year she freezes her eggs and 20,000 yen annually for a maximum of five years after the procedure. Although receiving nine times more applications than expected from women desiring to freeze their eggs, the government said it will provide all eligible applicants with up to 300,000 yen (US$2,000) in subsidies.

However, risks are involved. Even the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology advises women against freezing their eggs unless for therapeutic purposes. It makes known the potential health hazards and risks related with giving birth at an older age.

While popular, egg freezing is an expensive option. Egg freezing costs in India range from INR 1,20,000 to INR 2,50,000. And it’s not foolproof.

As per research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility last year, the age of the woman when she freezes her eggs and the number of eggs she freezes are factors that determine the success of the procedure. In fact, according to the paper, maximum women who tried to become pregnant, failed, at times because they had waited until they were too old to freeze eggs and had not frozen enough of them.

Still, as egg freezing becomes a profitable market, fertility clinics might be pushing it too far. According to an Australian news report last month, the popularity of egg freezing has given rise to fertility services using social media influencers to advertise the process, which incidentally, may be in breach of national law.

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Moreover, sometimes the clinics handling the procedure make mistakes. Two days ago, as per a BBC report, a London fertility clinic’s licence to operate was suspended owing to concerns about the way they were doing things. In three separate incidents errors had occurred in some freezing processes leading to “tragic loss of a small number of embryos” either not surviving or being “undetectable”.

The emotional toll of such incidents is quite high, where couples or would-be mothers have no clue when they can try the procedure to get pregnant again. Embryo freezing is an even more complicated procedure, which involves a father too.


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