It could be the fact that the women of Bachelor Nation are hella career-driven, or that the majority Bachelor relationships just *don’t* work out, but many contestants have frozen their eggs—and a few have even Instagrammed about it.
There’s one woman to thank for that: Whitney Bischoff, a nurse from OVA, a Chicago-based fertility lab. In between vying for Chris Soules’s affection on season 19 of The Bachelor—they ended up engaged, but later split, surprise surprise—Bischoff spent much of her off-camera time educating her fellow contestants about egg freezing.
Unintentional or not, Bischoff’s stint on the show ended up paying off big time for OVA. “Carly Waddell was the first [contestant] to be really curious,” Bischoff tells FLARE. “After the show, she reached out and froze her eggs with me. Now she’s married with a baby!” Although Waddell didn’t use her frozen eggs to conceive Isabella Evelyn, she has said that she has no regrets about going through the process. “I had the best back-up plan in the entire world,” Waddell later declared in a promotional video blog for Bischoff’s clinic, which now uses its Bachelor Nation cache to attract new clients.
When the Bachelor ladies began Instagramming about OVA (with the hashtag #NotAnAd), reality-TV producer Jessica Nahmias took note. Nahmias—who has worked on The Bachelor, in addition to shows like Yours, Mine or Ours and Bar Rescue—had already asked a gynaecologist about freezing her eggs a few years before when she was 27, but had been told she was too young to even consider it. “I took my doctor’s advice, but part of me wishes I had just done it then,” says Nahmias, now 32. “I knew in my soul that I was going to have kids much later in life.”
She even waited a few more years before consulting a new doctor about freezing her eggs. But she was met with same response: too young. Nahmias was told she shouldn’t consider the procedure until she was 35. “I found that hard to believe because I thought 35 is the age when your eggs start declining in quality, so why wait until that happens?”
Technically, Nahmias is right: the chances of a successful procedure would be higher if she froze her eggs when she was younger. (For reference, Bristowe was 31 when she did it and Waddell and Dorfman were 29). However, it’s been the experience of Dr. Mike Ripley, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Dalhousie Medical School, that women who freeze their eggs at a young age are less likely to use them, which would make the process (and all its costs) for naught.
There are a lot of misconceptions about freezing your eggs. Of course, fertility clinics that specialize in it have something to gain from actively promoting the procedure to younger women, simply because they don’t want women to outgrow their desire for it. “That clinics have a profit motive probably doesn’t help matters,” says Ripley. But there are many other instances, including medical conditions that may diminish fertility, which might make women want to freeze their eggs.
Still it’s important to understand that egg freezing is not a guaranteed fail-safe. “We call it ‘fertility preservation,’ but it should actually be called something like ‘fertility risk reduction,’ because that’s what it is,” Ripley says. “It reduces your risk of not being able to have your own biological children, but it isn’t a guarantee.”
When Nahmias thinks back to the doctors who told her to delay freezing her eggs, she believes her relationship status at the time may have played a part in influencing their decision. “I think [the doctors] thought, Oh, she just wants to do this because she’s single and scared she won’t meet someone“—which couldn’t be further from the truth, she says. “I wanted to freeze my eggs because I didn’t want to be at the mercy of my biology. Our 30s are an incredible time for career growth, and I didn’t want to be held down by having babies at a time when it felt like it could compromise my career.”
Regardless of why you might want to freeze your eggs, click through for everything you need to know about the procedure—and to find out the decision that Nahmias ultimately made.
When is the ideal time to freeze your eggs?
Between your late 20s and early 30s, says Dr. Kaajal Abrol, a doctor at Toronto-based Trio Fertility. “By the time a woman is into her late 30s, egg quality is much lower, affecting future egg survival and pregnancy rates,” says Abrol. “To optimize the chances of a pregnancy from frozen eggs, we want to freeze good-quality eggs, [and] we need a good number to freeze as not all frozen eggs will survive the thaw and result in a pregnancy.”
The data shows women who freeze their eggs at a younger age are less likely to use them later on, so finding the ideal age to freeze your eggs is a balancing act. Success rates remain roughly the same until the age of 35 or so. “Someone who wants to freeze their eggs at 23 could make the same decision at age 29 or 31 and the data shows that their live birth rates from those frozen eggs are about the same,” says Dr. Mike Ripley, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Dalhousie Medical School.
The number of eggs that are frozen will vary from person to person, but most doctors aim to harvest 10 to 15, erring on the side of more eggs if you’re older to ensure as many good-quality eggs as possible are frozen. Dr. Sonya Kashyap—who works at Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver—says that, “typical survival rates with thawing or warming [a.k.a. when eggs are brought out of freezing for conception] are greater than 95 percent.”
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