Take Control of Your Fertility: Preserve Your Eggs
Several years ago, news portal DNA India noted the trend of women marrying later in life: “A mindset-shift is in progress in India. In a country where half the girls were pushed into wedlock before they turned 18 … more and more women are exchanging wedding vows late.”1 A piece published last year in the Economic Times identified travel and career as bigger priorities than relationships for women. “Women today choose travel and career as the most important dreams to fulfill on their bucket lists, followed by money and put relationship goals as the least important, reveals a new survey.”2
The data support these findings: according to MedIndia, the mean age at marriage for women has risen to 26 in 2011, up from 22.7 in 1971.3 (www.medindia.net)
Yet getting married later in life has implications for a woman’s ability to start a family. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), “Even though women today are healthier and taking better care of themselves than ever before, improved health later in life does not offset the natural age-related decline in fertility. It is important to understand that fertility declines as a woman ages due to the normal age-related decrease in the number of eggs that remain in her ovaries. This decline may take place much sooner than most women expect.”4
The goals of getting an education, building a career, getting married and starting a family are a lot to juggle, and they weigh heavily on today’s women. In response, some women may choose to have their eggs frozen. As fertility treatments become more widely understood and available in India, this practice is becoming more common.
Ideally, a woman should have her eggs frozen when they are at their best. The ASRM identifies the 20’s as the best reproductive years for women. “Fertility gradually declines in the 30’s, particularly after age 35.”
How does the process work? First, medication is given to enhance hormone stimulation, and this increases the number of matured eggs available for freezing. Once the eggs have matured to a certain point, they are removed with a needle under ultrasound guidance. The patient is sedated for this process, so no pain is felt. The eggs are immediately frozen (a process also referred to as cryopreservation) and stored until the patient is ready to attempt pregnancy.
Fertility preservation treatments include the freezing of eggs, sperm and embryos to enable a person or a couple to have a child later in life. In India, the process is used more commonly to preserve the fertility of one who must receive medical treatment that may have an impact on his or her fertility, such as cancer treatment. However, if the trend of marrying later in life continues, fertility preservation treatments may become more common among India’s women.
According to MedIndia (www.medindia.net) the median age of marriage has been rising in India. The mean age at marriage for women has risen to 26 in 2011, up from 22.7 in 1971.
- 1971 – 22.7
- 1981 – 23.4
- 1991 – 24M
- 2001 – 24.8
- 2011 – 26
DNAIndia noted the trend in 2010: “A mindset-shift is in progress in India. In a country where half the girls were pushed into wedlock before they turned 18 – the minimum legal age for marriage – till a few years ago, more and more women are exchanging wedding vows late.” (http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-indian-women-push-back-marriage-age-1350166)
“Travel, career topmost on women’s bucket lists: Survey” – Sept 28, 2015
“Women today choose travel and career as the most important dreams to fulfill on their bucket lists, followed by money and put relationship goals as the least important, reveals a new survey.” (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-09-28/news/66957636_1_cent-indian-men-indian-women)
In fact, the practice of freezing eggs, ___________ in the West, is becoming a trend in India. “Hundreds of clinics have sprung up across India in recent years, catering to women who wish to have their eggs frozen. The treatment is gaining popularity as more and more of them choose to pursue careers and delay pregnancy by having their eggs frozen.” (http://www.dw.com/en/indian-career-women-put-pregnancy-on-freeze/a-16647761)
A piece in the Harvard Business Review cited a Nielsen survey about the level of stress experienced by women in India.
“Tapping its rich mine of educated female talent has been an important factor in allowing India to become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. But recently this particular dynamo has been showing signs of strain. According to“Women of Tomorrow,” a recent Nielsen survey of 6,500 women across 21 different nations, Indian women are the most stressed in the world today. An overwhelming 87% of Indian women said they felt stressed most of the time, and 82% reported that they had no time to relax.
The Nielsen survey’s respondents blame the difficulty of juggling multiple roles at home and work. Career opportunities for women in “the New India” are rapidly expanding, but family expectations and social mores remain rooted in tradition.
Not surprisingly, the most stress is felt among women between 25 and 55 years of age, who are trying to balance demanding careers with obligations at home.” (https://hbr.org/2011/08/why-are-indias-women-so-stress)
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