“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” — Madeleine Albright
It was just a few weeks ago, when the offline and online world was erupting with celebrations for “International Women’s Day” on March 8th. Every year, on this day there are celebrations for this day to celebrate Women from all walks of life. There are brands giving discounts, restaurants offering free drinks, partners buying gifts for the women in their lives, marathons being run by and for Women, and so on. All these commercial activities are meant to support the underlying agenda of Women Empowerment; but what does empowerment really mean? It certainly does not mean to celebrate Women on just 1 day out of the entire year, now does it?…and definitely not defined by the discounts offered.
Pondering over this thought on a late afternoon, I realized that I needed to get my Espresso shot of the day. And that is when it hit me like a wave from the ocean, Empowerment is all about having the freedom to make a choice – to make choices in every aspect of one’s life. For centuries, strong women have fought for equal rights, equal pay, equal representation in all fronts – I feel glad to have the opportunity to live in this age, when we, Women, have a choice on how we want to lead our individual lives, including getting married and when (and if) we want to get pregnant
As an embryologist, my journey has witnessed numerous cases of women who are typically choosing to have babies later in life due to various lifestyle and career factors, when the chances of conceiving naturally are smaller. Then there are women who may like to have children before the onset of age-related infertility, but have been unable to find a suitable or willing long-term partner to have children with. Single women nearing their mid-thirties (or older) usually have a very small window of opportunity to meet someone and begin the process of becoming pregnant before they suffer from infertility. And then there are also a group of women who due to disease-related reasons and nearing the end of their reproductive fertility, may have few or no other options to secure having their own biological children in the future.
In every case, what piqued my interest the most, the common factor of “CHOICE” – to be able to determine when a woman can have/plan a baby and experience the joy of motherhood without worrying about her health-related concerns and/or putting her career goals on a back-burner. The true meaning of Empowerment lies therein.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has always been popular for a number of reasons: reproductive complications that can affect the reproductive system, such as ovarian failure and PCOS, age-related fertility decline, cancer treatments that impede the reproductive system, and sub-optimal semen parameters in the male partner. In recent times, there have been great developments in the field of ART, with many new technologies now available. One such technology and method of assisted reproduction, is that of “Egg Freezing”.
Specifically chosen over embryo freezing, Egg Freezing is a process in which a woman’s eggs (oocytes) are extracted, frozen and stored as a method to preserve reproductive potential in women of reproductive age. This scientifically proven and much adopted worldwide method has advanced greatly over the past few years, with improved overall success of eggs surviving the freezing process.
It is no longer considered an experimental procedure by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Few years back, big conglomerates of the World – Facebook and Apple announced their decision to offer to pay for female employees to freeze their eggs, in theory, allowing women to ‘have it all’ – to pursue their career aspirations and to have biologically related ‘children’.
In the advent of such technological progress in this field and my initial thoughts around “Women’s Day” celebration, if there is something so revolutionary and in line with empowering Women everywhere with their freedom to choose, then that would certainly be the Egg Freezing technique. This enables every Woman to celebrate her freedom to get pregnant, if she wants, when she wants – if she decides to make the right choice, at the right time.
I will soon be back, with my next Blog post that details my foray into the world of Egg Freezing Methods, and its profound impact on my career as an Embryologist and my keen research mind!