Love Island star Amy Hart plans to freeze her eggs over fears she may be heading for an early menopause.
The former reality show contestant went for a “fertility MOT” after her mother, aunt and grandmother all went through “the change” in their early forties.
Hart, 27, told the Loose Women panel her Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is “quite low for her age”.
Produced by the ovaries, AMH indicates a woman’s “egg reserve and therefore fertility”, according to CREATE Fertility.
The former air hostess said she will “definitely” freeze her eggs in March, regardless of whether she meets “the one” beforehand.
After having a blood test, doctors reportedly told Hart her AMH level was low.
“That’s your prognosis for how long you’ll be fertile for”, she said.
“It fits in with my family history in that I’ll probably go through the menopause in early forties”.
Menopause normally occurs between 45 and 55 years old, with 51 being average in the UK, according to the NHS.
Asked by panelist Stacey Soloman if she’ll freeze her eggs, Hart said: “I’m definitely going to in March.
“I’m not going to live my life by whatever man I’ll meet.”
Hart added she will also consider a sperm donor if she doesn’t find the right person.
“I’d love to meet someone, get married, have kids”, she said.
“But if that doesn’t happen, I’ve got my insurance.”
What does egg freezing involve?
The egg-freezing process typically takes two-to-three weeks.
A woman is first tested for infectious diseases, like HIV.
An HIV+ patient can freeze her eggs, however, they must be stored away from others’ to prevent contamination.
She then starts IVF, which involves up to two weeks of hormonal injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
When ready, the eggs are collected under general anaesthetic or sedation.
Most women have around 15 eggs collected, however, it may be less for those with naturally low numbers.
Unlike IVF, the eggs are not then mixed with sperm but added to a freezing solution.
Eggs frozen “electively” are stored for up to a decade.
Cancer patients whose fertility is at risk due to chemo or radiotherapy may be able to store their eggs for up to 55 years.
When ready for use, the eggs are thawed. Surviving ones are injected with either a woman’s partner’s sperm or a donor’s via intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
ICSI is necessary due to freezing making the outer coating of eggs tougher, leaving sperm less able to penetrate during IVF.
If fertilisation takes place, the embryo is transferred into the womb in the hope it will lead to pregnancy.
When to freeze your eggs
Age is the single most important factor for success, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
It’s report “Should I freeze my eggs?”, states if a woman has the procedure at under 35, she will be more likely to conceive using these eggs than if she tried to become pregnant naturally, particularly from 40 onwards.
The timing of egg freezing can be tricky. Law dictates if a woman freezes her eggs at 20, she has to use them by 30, however, she may not be ready at this age.
If she waits until her late thirties, her fertility is already in decline. She may therefore need several rounds of treatment to collect enough viable eggs, creating a financial and emotional strain.
To maximises their chances of success, older women often use frozen donor eggs.
Is egg freezing safe?
Egg freezing is generally considered very safe, according to the HFEA.
Some women experience mild side effects from the injections, like tenderness.
A third (33%) of those having IVF develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), with just over 1% of cases being moderate or severe, Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) statistics show.
This occurs when the body overreacts to the drugs used during IVF. The overstimulated ovaries swell and release chemicals into the blood.
READ MORE: Egg Freezing: 5 Things You Need to Know
Fluid from the blood vessels then leaks into the abdomen, and sometimes the heart and lungs. A small number of deaths have been reported, the RCOG reports.
Mild cases usually get better on their own, however, if a woman is vomiting, passing little urine or battling chest pain, she should go to hospital.
There is no specific treatment. Anti-sickness drugs and IV drips can replace fluids lost by vomiting.
Some studies suggest thawed eggs are more likely to result in miscarriage.
Considering only around 2,000 babies have been born via egg freezing worldwide, evidence is limited, the HFEA states.
The cost of freezing your eggs
Some are eligible for egg freezing on the NHS. For example, cancer patients depending on where they live, according to the HFEA.
The rest usually have to foot the bill. This is unregulated, with private clinics setting the price.
The collection and freezing process usually costs £3,350 ($4,298), while a woman can expect to spend up to £1,500 ($1,924) on the injections.
Eggs can be stored for up to a decade, with a woman usually paying up to £350 ($449) a year.
The thawing and embryo transfer process costs around £2,500 ($3,207).
Overall, a woman usually spends between £7,000 ($8,980) and £8,000 ($10,263), with no guarantee it will work.
Loose Women is on weekdays from 12:30pm on ITV.