Dr. David Gurau
The “biological clock” too often seems like just another force working against a woman’s freedom to plan and live her life on her own terms. Thankfully, medical advances in fertility preservation are putting the control back where it belongs: in the hands of women. Mediaplanet spoke to Dr. David Gurau of Procrea Fertility for a crash course on the subject.
Mediaplanet: What is fertility preservation, or egg freezing, and who is it for?
Dr. David Gurau: Fertility preservation is useful for two main groups of people. The first is patients who are about to undergo medical treatment, that could affect their future fertility — such as chemotherapy, radiation, or ovarian surgery. The second is individuals who are concerned about an age-related decline in fertility.
Female fertility peaks in the early twenties and declines into the late thirties and forties. Infertility is common, affecting 10%–20% of people at age 35, and rising to roughly 90% by age 45.
The chance of conceiving and having a baby depends mainly on the age of the eggs — if you’re 45 years old and using eggs that were frozen when you were 30, your chance of having a baby is essentially that of a 30-year-old. That’s the basic principle behind fertility preservation. Anyone who is planning to delay their fertility past the age of 35 to 37 should consider having a consultation.
What does the fertility preservation process look like?
The first step is an in-depth consultation with a fertility specialist and ovarian reserve testing. Outcomes are much better when this conversation is individualized, which is something we emphasize at Procrea.
The process of fertility preservation is done in two parts. A series of injections are used over the course of 8 to 12 days to stimulate the ovaries. Next comes the egg retrieval procedure, which takes about 10 minutes and is usually done under sedation. It can be uncomfortable, but most people find it tolerable and are fully recovered by the next day.
Is the procedure covered by provincial health care?
In Ontario, the consultation is covered by OHIP for anyone with a referral. Fertility preservation is covered for people with medical conditions where the planned treatment may affect their future fertility. People who are interested in the procedure for age-related reasons may pay for the procedure privately.