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Although she’s only 26, the singer made the revelation that she had undergone the procedure when she was in her early twenties.
Appearing on Sunrise yesterday, the single popstar opened up about her desire for a “big family” and her decision to freeze her eggs to buy her time until she meets the right partner.
“Well I think it’s amazing the technology that we have to kind of really take control of our own destinies,” Rita said before going on to explain that her doctor first raised the subject of freezing her eggs with her when she was in her early twenties.
“He’s been my family doctor for a long time and he said, ‘I think you’re healthiest now and I think it would be great. Why don’t you just put them away now and you never have to worry about it again.'”
And when asked by the presenter if she had taken up her doctor’s suggestion to freeze her eggs, she replied that she had.
“I’ve never actually said that on TV and I’m 26 so I know people might say, ‘Wow, that’s so young.’ I just wanted to really be safe.”
It isn’t surprising that Rita wanted to act now in order to protect her fertility later. For years, women have lived under the threat of a ticking fertility timebomb. Barely a day passes without some reference to the female biological clock.
One doctor even recommended that all single women over the age of 35 should be freezing their eggs, while a further report suggested that women who’re hoping to have a big family should start trying for their first child at the age of 23 – before most of us even have got our careers on track or found someone we actually want to procreate with.
So it’s entirely understandable that women, like Rita, are getting the fertility fear, and then choosing to act upon it.
Recent statistics from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have revealed that the number of women choosing to freeze their eggs to have babies later in life has soared.
According to the HFEA’s latest report, 3,676 women have undergone the procedure since 2001.
The most common reason given for freezing was having no male partner with a third of women aged 37 and under citing this as the reason for undergoing the procedure, with this figure rising to more than half for women aged 38 and over.
According to the Guardian, other reasons for freezing eggs include impending medical treatment that may affect fertility – such as chemotherapy for cancer; not feeling ready for motherhood but concerned about fertility declining; the desire to delay motherhood for professional reasons; risk of injury or death, for instance for a member of the armed forces who is about to be deployed to a war zone; or that the woman is undergoing gender reassignment.
If the statistics are anything to go by, this pressure to freeze our eggs is relatively current, especially after Facebook and Apple have both reportedly begun to offer egg-freezing among their company benefits.
But is it really the solution?
The HFEA describes egg freezing as a procedure for collecting a woman’s eggs, freezing them and then thawing them later on so they can be used in fertility treatment.
But it is not necessarily a simple procedure. Egg freezing forms part of an IVF process, which usually takes around two to three weeks to complete.
Normally, it involves taking drugs to boost your egg production and help the eggs mature. When they’re ready, they’ll be collected whilst you’re under general anaesthetic or sedation.
Once the eggs are collected, a cryoprotectant (freezing solution) will be added to protect them. The eggs will then be frozen either by cooling them slowly or by vitrification (fast freezing) and stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen.
There’s the cost to consider too. The average cost of having your eggs collected and frozen is, wait for it, £2,500 to £5,000. Storage costs are extra and tend to be between £150 and £400 per year.
Plus it is difficult for fertility experts to predict the success of egg freezing too as since 2001 only 60 babies have been born from frozen eggs.
Rita Ora decided that her desire to be “safe” was reason enough to freeze her own eggs, but it’s worth remembering that the procedure is by no means a guarantee of future pregnancy.
So while there’s no doubt that egg freezing does offer a viable option to many women who do want children at some point, and can afford to fork out for the procedure, it’s also worth noting that we might have longer left on our biological clocks than we might have thought.
Britain’s leading fertility expert believes the worries about conceiving after the golden age of 35 aren’t quite as grave as we might have been led to think.
Despite the NHS and various other experts advising that women’s fertility steeply declines after 35, Lord Robert Winston believes women remain fertile until they are 45 and are wrongly being pushed into early IVF, or indeed egg freezing, by some private clinics.
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