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(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — A local fertility expert is encouraging career-driven women to consider freezing their eggs as a method to preserve reproductive potential until they are ready for families.
“A lot of women don’t know that you can actually freeze your eggs or embryos, especially if you are a young professional who is studying or plan to do a PhD. Instead of trying to get the career out of the way, and then remembering that you need to have a child when you’re in the advanced reproductive age group where it then becomes extremely difficult and may sometimes warrant you having to use donor eggs, you can actually bank your eggs or embryos at the university,” said Dr John Harriott, consultant at the University of the West Indies’ Hugh Wynter Fertility Management Unit.
He was speaking to the Jamaica Observer Thursday at the UWI Research Days at the institution’s Mona campus in St Andrew.
“One of the concerns is that as you age there is an increased risk of having congenital anomalies (birth defects), in particular, Down syndrome. It’s really an added protection. We’re not saying that by the time you are ready you won’t be able to use the eggs that you have, but what we’re finding is that a lot of the patients who present to us in our fertility unit wishing to have assisted reproduction techniques performed are in the advanced reproductive age group,” he said.
According to the consultant, this is the single most limiting factor in preventing a successful in vitro fertilisation (IVF) process.
IVF is the process of fertilisation by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo is then transferred to the uterus.
At the same time, Dr Harriott told the Observer that another assisted reproductive technique performed at the unit is the Intrauterine insemination which is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilisation.
“So they have the option of banking their eggs or embryos for future use. The longevity of embryos is longer than that of eggs but certainly, 10-15 years is good in terms of how long these can be stored. Even if you become menopausal we have an age limit to which we perform assisted reproductive techniques and also medical eligibility criteria because you have to be in good health, but the cut-off is a threshold of 50 [years old] without medical comorbidities (diseases) that are deemed life-threatening or likely to worsen by becoming pregnant,” said Harriot.