Madeleine Thompson Blog – The Emotions/Part Three

Madeleine Thompson

Posted by Madeleine Thompson

07 April 2016

When the first Test Tube baby was born 35 years ago there was a public outcry. Babies being grown in test tubes was a concept that society was just not ready for and, as a consequence,the whole IVF programme went underground and moved into the private sector.

Even today, although almost everyone knows an IVF baby, many couples wishing fertility treatment cannot get it on the NHS and have to resort to private and often very expensive treatment because the idea is just not acceptable.

Fast forward thirty five years and we are now in the same position with egg freezing.

Up until recently we were not able to freeze eggs. We can freeze embryos and have been able to do so for 30 years. Freezing sperm has been around for over 50 years.

Its only recently however that we have learnt how to freeze eggs effectively.

The problem was that human eggs are extremely delicate and when frozen by conventional methods, can swell and crack during the thawing process.

More recently, a process has been developed called vitrification, where the egg is literally frozen in glass and so does not swell when thawed out.

Thawing rates of over 90% can be achieved which means that the eggs can then be successfully fertilised, sometimes many years after they have been collected.

So why freeze eggs? Well the major difference between men and women is that men are sperm factories; they have all the ingredients in there bodies to make sperm every day of the week. Some days they are good at it, some days not so good. It takes a man about 6 weeks to make a sperm. Strictly speaking therefore, men can make sperm up until the day we die.

Women on the other hand are egg warehouses. They have all the eggs in their ovaries on the day they are born. They cannot make eggs or indeed make them better quality. They can only lose them and those eggs get older with the female as she ages.

As a consequence, all females lose their fertility as they get older. Very rapidly, over the age of 35 as a matter of fact.

As society expects more and more of women, additional pressures are put upon women that simply never existed two or three generations ago with the consequence of them delaying their families for one reason or another and hence, in many cases having increasing difficulty in conceiving at a time in their lives when they want to!. Heaven help them if they then fall in love with a man who happens to have a low sperm count.

So what is wrong with women wanting to freeze their eggs when they are young as insurance just in case they may be forced or decide, for one reason or another to delay their family. She can then have her eggs thawed and fertilised when her own contemporary supply is old or exhausted.

Well I'm sure we all, and society as a whole will have an opinion on that, just as we did about the first test tube baby when she was born all those years ago.

Madeleine Thompson

Author: Madeleine Thompson