I’ve just been watching this really interesting documentary by Al-Jazeera journalist Amanda Burrell who is trying to decide whether to freeze her eggs as she approaches her forty-third birthday. It’s a fascinating look at egg freezing through the eyes of a childless woman who is wondering whether she really wants to be a mother, and whether she should consider freezing her eggs.
We are often told that women know all too well about the biological clock and that we don’t need to keep reminding them – and yet the huge gaps in Amanda Burrell’s knowledge show that the message is still not really getting across. Of course, she was aware that female fertility declined with age – but she had little idea of the reality of what happens in your late thirties and early forties. She is delighted when a doctor tells her that her ovarian reserve is better than might be expected for her age, but appears to quickly gloss over what he also explains to her – that this doesn’t guarantee the quality of her eggs.
Freezing is discussed as an “insurance”, but even with a good ovarian reserve, freezing your eggs at 43 is going to be a pretty huge gamble. Amanda gradually becomes more aware of this, but what isn’t ever fully explored is the fact that even with good quality frozen eggs you are still at the start of a journey as anyone with experience of fertility treatment will know. Eggs have to fertilise, embryos have to implant – neither of which can be guaranteed – and when you are using eggs produced at the age of 43, your chances of having a miscarriage even if you did get pregnant are high.
This is a fascinating look at the reality of being a single childless women approaching the end of your fertile years. It’s also an incredibly brave documentary as Amanda explores her thoughts and feelings about motherhood, childlessness and egg freezing. Do watch it – http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeracorrespondent/2014/12/motherhood-ice-201412492641993386.html