By Melissa Singer– Daily Life
I’ve been fortunate to make it to 38 without ever having the need to visit a gynaecologist.
So when I arrived at my first appointment with the doctor, to implement a new contraception plan, I was apprehensive. After all, until recently, I used to faint from blood tests.
Within five minutes of meeting the friendly female doctor, who is also a fertility specialist, she clocked my age and childless status and asked, “Do you want to freeze some eggs?”
Wait, what, hello? I thought I was there to discuss contraception, and potentially be fitted with a LARC (long acting reversible contraceptive). And now I was being offered a costly, invasive procedure with the casualness a waiter would ask if you wanted any sides with your steak.
What a lark, indeed.
The doctor didn’t ask my relationship status (just about over being dumped, thanks) or my feelings about having children beyond, “Do you want kids?” Yes, hopefully, but …
The rest of the appointment proceeded normally, including an ultrasound to see what was going on inside. The good news is I have a healthy, functioning reproductive system. The bad news, like for most women my age, is that things are slowing down.
After 20 minutes, I left the surgery without the thing I needed, and instead got more than I bargained for. On the short drive home, I felt more alone and upset than the last conversation I had with my ex-partner nearly six months ago.
Back then, in my freshly single state, it surprised me that friends would mention egg freezing in the same breath as asking me how I was coping. I guess having been in relationships continuously for nearly 14 years, it was never a topic that warranted discussion. Yet now it feels like it’s everywhere I look.
Last Saturday, over a peaceful solo breakfast at a local cafe, my fertility – and the level of fear-mongering around it – was again brought into sharp focus. I was confronted by a front-page newspaper article that suggested egg freezing was the solution to having kids with “Mr Wrong”.
It’s true more women are freezing their eggs for social (that is, non medical) reasons but it’s not for everyone. Egg freezing is expensive, about $7000 a cycle. And it’s not foolproof in ensuring a successful pregnancy once the eggs are re-implanted. According to my doctor’s website, the success rate is about 6 to 12 per cent, suggesting that a woman who freezes 20 eggs has a good chance of carrying a healthy baby.
Still, I support the fact the technology is available to those women who want it. Anything that increases a woman’s choice is positive in my book and negates the antiquated notion that women who want children should settle for “Mr Good Enough” when their biological clock starts ticking too loudly to ignore.
Right now I am finally enjoying being single and while the issue of fertility is always in the back of my mind, I don’t need pressure selling to complicate matters further.
At this stage, I am going to take my chances. If I am meant to have a child, I will. Science will argue against this approach but what the hell. And I am also free to change my mind, at any time.
Yes, younger eggs are healthier and more viable, that’s medically proven. And yet, it may not be the default choice for single women over 30, so please stop beating us over the heads with it.
Melissa Singer is Fairfax Media’s Deputy Lifestyle Editor, and Fashion Editor.