Day 6

Four things to think about before freezing your eggs

Apple is following Facebook's lead in paying for egg freezing as part of its employee benefit plans. The companies will pay as much as $20,000 for women who'd like to take the step, for medical or non-medical reasons.
Apple is following Facebook's lead in paying for egg freezing as part of its employee benefit plans. The companies will pay as much as $20,000 for women who'd like to take the step, for medical or non-medical reasons. Freezing eggs is an attractive option for many women who want to have children and aren't quite ready. This week, Day 6 spoke to  Judith Shulevitz about the risks associated with being an older parent. Here are four things to consider before freezing your eggs.

   
1) Cost
 

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  Freezing your eggs involves a few different costs. Fertility clinics charge up to $9000 for one cycle of egg retrieval, and fertility drugs to simulate egg production can cost thousands more. Egg storage typically costs up to $1000 a year. And when it's time to implant the fertilized embryo, in vitro fertilization treatments can cost up to $4000 per cycle. The longer a clinic holds on to your eggs, the more it will cost you to store them. And there's no guarantee your eggs will be viable when you're ready to become pregnant. Quebec is the only province to cover the service through its  healthcare plan

2) Medical risks of fertility treatment 

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  In its 2012 report, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine said egg freezing was an exciting and improving technology, and stopped calling the procedure experimental. But there are risks associated with the hormone injections women take in order to freeze their eggs. According to the    Center for Genetics and Society, getting your eggs frozen is risky, in part because of the hormones used to stimulate egg production. "The short term risks range from mild to very severe, and the long-term risks are uncertain because they haven't been adequately studied - even though the fertility industry has been using these hormones for decades," says Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the non-profit group. Senior editor at The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz, explored the risks associated with fertility treatments in her    piece How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society: The scary consequences of the grayest generation. "You have to pump the body full of hormones in order to retrieve the eggs, and you can cause something called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which may have real consequences for your health ranging from later infertility to possibly cancer," says Shulevitz. 

3) Your age

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  A woman's fertility starts to decline in her late 20s. At 35, it declines more sharply as the risk of complications increases. And by age 40, Health Canada says only 53 percent of women can get pregnant. Many clinics suggest women freeze their eggs between the ages of 30 and 35, to allow for the best chances of having a child in the future. If women freeze their eggs too early, they may not be viable by the time they want to get pregnant. 

4) The age of the sperm 

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  Like eggs, sperm also deteriorates with age. A growing body of    research suggests the older the sperm, the higher the risk of complications including autism, dyslexia and schizophrenia. "Studies show that there are links between the age of the father and the likelihood that the child will have some sort of overwhelmingly neurological disorder. There are very clear links established more than 20 years ago between older fathers and schizophrenia. I want to stress that we're dealing in very small proportions of the population, but still we're dealing with increased risk," says Shulevitz. "Ability to make sperm doesn't change between 20 and 80, but quality does," Biophysicist Andrew Wyrobek of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory told Macleans. "As men age, their sperm begins swimming around purposelessly, not in a straight line." According to a 2012 study published in the journal Nature, a 36-year-old man is twice as likely as a 20-year-old to pass on genetic mutations to his children. Scientists say that sheds light on the importance of the father's age when it comes to risk of diseases such as schizophrenia and autism. 

  Hear more by checking out Quirks and Quarks  documentary on the subject.

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