Singer and actor Rita Ora has revealed she froze her eggs in her early 20s.
No matter if we’re ready to have children or not, society is only too keen to remind us of the tick-tocking of our body clocks. Whether we’re just finishing university or nearing our 40s, as women there is an ever-present question mark over whether we’ll ultimately choose to have a family.
But since the first baby was born via egg freezing in 2005, the tables have started to turn. In recent years, the procedure – which was originally devised for cancer patients – has been gaining popularity, gathering speed and ultimately giving women the freedom to come to motherhood when, and if, it works for them.
However, while we may be familiar with the concept of ‘freezing eggs’, it’s not a subject we hear a lot about. Which is why it’s so refreshing that pop star Rita Ora has spoken out about the treatment, revealing that she’s done it herself.
The Guardian reports that Ora opened up on the subject while appearing on Australian breakfast TV show Sunrise, explaining that her family doctor recommended she undergo the procedure.
The 27-year-old said that he suggested she safeguard her chances of pregnancy, telling her: “You’re healthiest now and I think it would be great, why don’t you put them away now and you’ll never have to worry about it again?”
Speaking of her motivation for undergoing the treatment, Ora referenced her hopes to have a large family in the future. While she acknowledged that she was still young, she said she is “big believer in using what we have and making the most of it”.
Ora isn’t the first celebrity to speak out about freezing her eggs. Actor Olivia Munn revealed on Anna Faris’ podcast in 2016 that she “froze a bunch of eggs” after turning 35.
Munn encouraged other women to do the same thing, saying: “I think that every girl should do it. For one, you don’t have to race the clock any more. You don’t have to worry about it, worry about your job or anything. It’s there.
“It’s also just like, why not do it, because I see so many women who go through this. Doomsday is now like whatever’s day, because I am prepared,” she continued.
Opportunities for women to take control of their fertility are constantly expanding and improving, something that could be leading many women to concentrate on their careers in their 20s and delay thoughts of motherhood into their 30s and beyond.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the age of first-time mothers in England and Wales is steadily increasing, with over half of all babies (53%) in 2015 being born to women over 30.
But what does freezing your eggs really involve – and more importantly, how available is it to those considering it?
According to London Women’s Clinic, the treatment process is similar to that of IVF. A course of injections (up to two weeks) is used to stimulate the ovaries so several eggs can be collected.
These eggs are collected using a needle that’s passed through the vagina into each ovary, before being frozen using a technique called vitrification. This very quickly transforms them to a glass-like state (“vitrifies”).
When the time comes to thaw your eggs, they will be fertilised in the laboratory, with the resulting embryo placed into the uterus.
The technology is still relatively new, and the clinic warns that though success rates are generally good, it heavily depends on the woman’s age and the quality of the thawed eggs. Women wishing to freeze their eggs are advised to do so before the age of 35, as the chances of success decline after this age.
Egg freezing is currently only available on the NHS to women who have been diagnosed with cancer and will be undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy which affect fertility. The service generally costs between £3,000 and £5,000 at a private clinic.
Some women may also be able to have the price of egg freezing covered by their employer. Apple and Facebook hit the headlines in 2014 after offering female employees the chance to get their eggs frozen for free, an offer which received mixed feedback at the time with some criticising the idea as “creepy and insane“.
Ultimately, a woman’s decision to freeze her eggs is an incredibly personal one, and should be down to her and her alone.
If you are considering freezing your eggs seek advice from your GP or a fertility clinic.
Images: Rex Features