For many people in their 20s, their relationship with fertility is usually centred around trying not to get pregnant. So the thought of considering your future options — especially if you’re not ready for kids just yet — can be daunting. But if there’s anything a global pandemic has given us (aside from poor social skills and a car floor covered in masks) it’s that it's time to mull over our life choices.
“Many single women have been sitting at home in lockdown thinking, ‘I don’t have the opportunity to go out and meet someone and I don't know when it's going to change.’ And have decided to take charge of their own fertility,” says Dr Jenny Cook, a Gynaecologist, Fertility Specialist and Advanced Laparoscopic Surgeon with Monash IVF in Sydney.
“The biggest group I see is single women. It’s often a relief for these women because they don’t have to wait for the right person to come along, or when that person does, they haven’t missed their chance.”
In Victoria alone, egg freezing is up 257% from pre-pandemic levels, with 4,976 women with frozen eggs in storage currently, according to The Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority.
There has also been a cultural shift in the conversation surrounding women’s fertility, with a recent number of incredibly vulnerable depictions in the media including Nell Frizell’s best-selling book The Panic Years (and the subsequent After Work Drinks podcast interview) as well as Linda Marigliano’s breakthrough podcast ‘Tough Love’ in which she documents her very intimate journey to have her eggs frozen during the pandemic.
For some, the process of egg freezing is a tough decision to make and could feel like a concession on conceiving naturally. But Dr Cook says that egg freezing is a positive and empowering experience for the women she treats.
“It may not be your only option and it may not be for the first baby,” says Dr Cook. “It might be for the second or third. It extends your reproductive lifespan.”
Dr Cook’s biggest advice: Be proactive. According to research and her own experience working as a fertility specialist, for the most viable outcomes, you should aim to freeze your eggs by the age of 35 and know that your 20s are the best time to begin thinking about your fertility options.
We asked 7 R29 readers to tell us all about their egg freezing journeys and why there is no better time than now to start thinking about your fertility.