We’d walked around the river bank month after month, two women
having mapped their journey from youth to motherhood. My children born,
hers in the planning. Months went by, no news, no little baby bump.
The pressure mounted until finally there was the admission, it was time
to seek help.
Today this could have been a different story. Women can celebrate
from America to China as new technology opens even more options and
today its been announced that Shanghai will open the doors of the first
Chinese egg bank.
By the time a woman reaches 35 years old her fertile has dropped to half what it was at 25.
At 25 my friend was working as a researcher in television, madly
cruising the world for stories that made the rest of us all breathe in
astonishment and awe. Yes she was going so many places, so successful.
The years flew by and at 30 her career was zooming at every corner,
now she was a producer, awarding winning producer for that matter. Her
life was perfect, and now she had an equally perfect husband.
Fertility rates by 30 start to decline 3.5% each year.
This was a woman who was in control of her life, everything was
planned at 30. In two years she would begin to try for her first child,
the second would be born two years after that.
What she didn’t plan for was how difficult it can be for some women to get pregnant, but why would she? She was in control.
Now at 35 she turned to Naturopathy for the solution. This was a quick and natural solution, she was still in control.
Her strict diet was making her so sick, no chocolate, no alcohol,
not even bread, or cheese this so the ovaries would be clean. Her
husband had begun complaining about the restrictions on food, but even
more the ritual of sex had lost it’s spontaneity. Sex was now for birth
planning; no fun.
But time was running out for her, her clock was ticking away. We
all knew the implications, the pain of being a childless family, the
loss of the right of every woman to give birth.
The months dragged by, now I was told not to ask questions, it was
too painful. I was hesitant about talking about my children,
extraordinary guilt that conceiving was never difficult for me, I was
the lucky one.
We waited for anything, any news knowing that now they had begun
the harsh program of IVF. Her body was poked, prodded and manipulated,
he just produced sperm the normal(ish) way.
One morning an email arrived with an attachment. There it was an
ultra-sound of her 13 week old fetus, the joy, the relief, and finally
we shared a tear.
Two children later my friend looks a mess, she’s had no sleep,
children’s toys are scattered around what once was her perfect house.
Her journey has been completed, we can share the trials and tribulations
She was one of the lucky women, by 40 years old with each ovulation
cycle a woman’s chances of conceiving have dropped to 5%, and by 45 the
chances of falling pregnant are almost zero.
Coupled with infertility is the quality of eggs. The risk of birth
defects also rises with age. A woman at 20 years of age has a one in
1,667 chance of having a child with
Down syndrome; by 35, that has increased to a one chance in 385 and by
the age of
40 the chances have escalated to a one chance in 106.
For the generation of women who are now in their 40’s so many of us have struggled with the dual role we are offered in life.
We were raised by the feminists of the 1970’s who pushed us to be
career women, work work work until your at the top, then be a mother, no
be a Supermom, work work, raise your children.
Its no wonder so many got caught in the trap, choosing to leave
getting pregnant for just one more year, maybe two, then, oh dear it’s
just too late.
Our generation has been the guinea pigs of the post emancipation of
women and our legacy to the younger generation must be plan, plan for
In China the first Egg Bank is about to open in the coming months.
Here women now have such a unique and sensible option. In theory a
woman who knows her career will remain important to her until later in
life can plan to have eggs removed while young and stored for up to 10
Once eggs are removed from the ovaries they are dropped into ultra
cold nitrogen, being frozen to minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit.
Demand for the technique are rising by the day. In one recent
survey of university students two groups of women were surveyed. One
were medical students, the other studying education. 86% of the medical
and 50% of education students would consider freezing eggs in order to
pursue their career.
In other studies of women who had expressed an interest in egg bank
services, many simply did not want to raise children alone, they would
wait until they had found their ideal partner.
While the Chinese clinic has been set up in association with the
Shanghai Jiaotong University is promoting itself as provide a service
for women who have cancer, the reality will be that most demand will
come from women who want to delay getting pregnant.
There is no guarantee for women that the eggs will survive, but
certainly it gives them some assurance that by they time they are ready
to be that supermom they have planned a fall back position if their
biological clock has ticked over.
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Birth defects higher in older and younger women