Thirty-eight-year old banker, Sandra Adetoye, has achieved more than what most women of her age have in the last year. At least, as an assistant manager in her organisation, she is a successful woman by all standards.
To get to this enviable position, the result-oriented accountant had to sacrifice her relationships with friends and potential suitors.
But here comes the snag to this motivational story. Adetoye got married at the age of 35 and she has not been able to conceive in the last two years. She has undergone four failed IVF procedures and doctors have advised her to consider using an egg donor for the next round.
According to the doctors, Adetoye’s eggs are not as good as they should be. Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology, Oladapo Ashiru, says the best time for any woman to conceive is in her early 20s and 30s.
As a woman grows older, Ashiru explains that her reproductive functions become impaired, particularly the ovarian functions.
The renowned IVF expert notes that as much as the education of the female child is important, emphasis on pursuing career goals while single at the expense of having a family has a negative impact on a woman’s fertility.
He says, “One of the commonest questions I have had to address from women is, ‘Why can’t I get pregnant?’This singular question is usually asked by women in their late 30s or early 40s; women at the peak of their careers.
“The answer is simple. The quality of the eggs diminishes, as a woman grows older. Fertility challenges such as fibroids and other uterine problems are common among women in this age bracket.”
However, the specialist says that people should become parents when they are mentally prepared for that responsibility.
To avoid tasting the same bitter pill that Adetoye did, the IVF specialists recommends that women above 30, who have to delay child bearing, should consider freezing their eggs for future use,
Unimaginable right? Thanks to technology, women need not worry about their biological clock ticking again as oocytes cryopreservation, also known as freezing of eggs has proved to be effective in keeping women’s eggs viable and fertile till they are needed for future use.
With this procedure, Ashiru says single women who are not married and want to preserve their fertility can have babies when the right partner comes along.
“Fertility preservation has become a new event that we must all come to terms with, especially for women or men in their mid 30s and are single. They must know that they will not be fertile forever. This can save them the hassle of boosting their fertility when they finally have a partner.
“It is not an invasive procedure and the oocytes can be preserved for more than 10 years. We recorded 62 per cent cleavage rate when we fertilised the frozen ooctyes (eggs) from donors. The results are great and as comparable to what you get if we had used fresh ooctyes retrieved through IVF,” he adds.
To get the best result of this novel protocol, doctors say you must do it at the right age.
Ashiru says that egg freezing is ideal when one does it at a younger age.
He quickly adds that not all women between the ages 30 and 40 brackets will experience infertility.
He adds, “Some older women will achieve spontaneous conception, but the likelihood is reduced in comparison to when they were much younger. But overtime, women within this age bracket are the major presenters to most IVF fertility centres and the most difficult to manage.
“ I implore women to draw a balance between child rearing and their career. Companies such as Apple and Facebook have taken bold steps in considering ‘egg freezing’ for their young female employees to secure their chances of achieving conception when they are finally ready to embark on it.
“Certain stars and celebrities have also considered social egg freezing until a time when they would want to get pregnant. These are bold steps taken in the right directions, albeit, I hold the opinion of getting things done at the right time rather than “nipping them in the bud’.
Fertility physician, Dr. Emmanuel Owie, however, states that oocytes cryopreservation is also necessary for women who have been diagnosed with cancer and may lose their fertility while undergoing chemotherapy.
Owie says that women who want to delay or space their children but are already above 35 may also consider this option to ensure that the ages are still viable when they are ready to have other kids.
He notes, “We have had upwardly mobile women in Nigeria requesting this service. The protocol is beneficial for women with a family history of early menopause, women with objection to storing of embryos for religious and moral reasons and women who want to delay child bearing in order to pursue some personal goals.”
The good news is that a baby boy has been conceived using this protocol at the Bridge Clinic in Lagos, Nigeria. Tiwatope, whose parents plead for anonymity is said to be the first baby conceived using this procedure in West Africa.