Pregnancy. In our youth it’s a topic many people speak of in either fear or future excitement. Something that often feels so distant. But next thing you know - we’re at an age where pregnancies become a common part of our realities. Suddenly, everyone you know is getting pregnant and creating beautiful families. For some people, getting pregnant happens easily. Sometimes it fits into the perfect plan and sometimes it can take us by surprise. While this is the case for many mothers out there, there is a less glorified narrative that countless families experience while trying to get pregnant: infertility or unfavourable odds of successful pregnancies. Often a heartbreaking realization, one or both partners may discover they are unable or unlikely to have children in the “traditional” sense.
While this devastating news used to seriously destroy all hope for conceiving children, modern medicine has changed these odds thanks to the creation of IVF and egg freezing.
These two methods are not reserved for only cisgendered couples, but can be tools for all people regardless of their identity, to conceive children.
In vitro fertilization, more commonly referred to as IVF, are a series of complex procedures that involve mature eggs being retrieved, fertilized with semen in a lab and then transferring this fertilized egg into a uterus. One full cycle of IVF takes three weeks, at the very least.
Pros of IVF
This procedure is the most effective method for achieving pregnancy when there are less favourable odds. It can involve using one or both partner’s eggs, sperm or embryos, but it can also come from known or unknown anonymous donors. It is even possible for a couple’s fertilized egg to be artificially inseminated into a carrier. There are many different possible versions, allowing for a wide range of couples to use IVF in a way that fits their needs.
For more information on this form of family planning, visit your doctor to see if you are the right fit.
Cons of IVF
While IVF does offer a chance of success, it also involves a lot of extra factors that families have to consider before starting treatment. IVF can be extremely time consuming. There is no guarantee it will work the first time, so it can require many rounds of treatment before you have any success.
IVF is also an expensive process. In Canada, IVF treatments cost about $10,000 to $15,000 per cycle. For some cases, fertility drugs and other tests can increase those costs to up to $20,000. While a few provinces in Canada offer financial assistance, this help is often not enough for success. For example, in Ontario, the government will provide one cycle of IVF per a patient’s lifetime. There is potential for pregnancy in that one cycle, but there are no guarantees.
Beyond expensive and time consuming, it is also invasive. The procedures are uncomfortable and the process can take a heavy toll on a person’s body. As many people also need to take fertility drugs and monitor their body constantly, it is often considered a very difficult journey. Physically it is challenging, but also mentally it can be draining. Hope, disappointment, stress, frustration, and so many other difficult emotions.
For many of us, as we get older we may not be in the stage where we are ready to get pregnant. Worried you’re getting older, but not ready for kids yet? Or maybe you have other health concerns that raise into question how possible it will be to get pregnant in the future. This is where egg freezing is an excellent option to consider. Egg freezing, also known as mature oocyte cryopreservation, is a method used to preserve someone’s ability to get pregnant in the future. This process involves a procedure where the eggs are harvested from your ovaries, are frozen unfertilized, and stored for later use.
As people age, our abilities to conceive decreases. Just like IVF, this process has its risks. There are no guarantees of success and it is another invasive, expensive process as the eggs must be extracted, potentially during a few different cycles. The chances of achieving pregnancy after implantation are roughly 30 to 60 percent, depending on your age at the time you froze your eggs.
When is the best time to think about egg freezing?
Wondering when the best time is to consider freezing your eggs? Fertility starts to decline after the age of thirty, with a sharp decline when you enter your forties. Thus, the best time to freeze your eggs is in your late twenties to early thirties. It is possible to freeze them later in life, but the odds of success decline the older you get.
It’s never too early to start considering your future fertility options! If you’re looking to supplement your journey with a current pregnancy prevention plan, visit our service page for more information!
To hear stories from people who have experienced the IVF and egg freezing process, see here:
Canadian living abroad experience from beginning to end of the journey: