Cocktails, canapes and fertility - the egg freezing parties attracting hopeful women

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock  

Forget sitting in a sterile doctor's office while you awkwardly discuss freezing your eggs, now you can do it over cocktails at an egg freezing cocktail party.

The parties, which invite women to mingle with fertility specialists while enjoying a few drinks, are popular in the United States and enable women to talk about the sensitive issue in a relaxed setting.

One of the first events of its kind in Australia – Egg Freezing Unlocked - was organised by Monash IVF last week and saw more than 85 people attend.

Monash IVF Fertility Specialist Professor Beverley Vollenhoven, who attended the Melbourne event, said the concept came from the success of similar events overseas. And because of the success of the organisation's first event, more will be held in the future.

"These events have been highly successful particularly in the US. Guests feel comfortable and relaxed to talk to specialists and others who are considering preserving their fertility," Prof Vollenhoven said.

"We certainly don't want to be seen as making light of a very serious conversation, but for women who would like to explore it, this event allowed them to start the conversation."

She said that while there have been a number of seminar style events on the topic, they often come across as clinical and can overwhelm women with medical jargon.

"We made a conscious effort to create an event that allowed women to address their questions one-on-one rather than in front of a large audience," she said.

Also attending the event were fertility specialists, nurses, scientists, counsellors and women who have frozen their eggs, to preserve their fertility options for later in life.

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"The urgency of the conversation comes down to women freezing their eggs at the optimum age," Professor Vollenhoven said.

"The average age for women currently freezing their eggs is 36, yet the optimum age would be in their mid to late 20s.

"Even if a woman was to freeze her eggs in her early 30s rather than as few as five years later, the overall success rate of collecting viable eggs and the chance of conception would be much higher."

On average, 500 freezing cycles take place annually, with about 80 per cent of them for medical reasons, mainly prior to cancer treatment. However, some women freeze eggs because they are not ready to have a baby or have not yet found a suitable partner.

Anna, 31, from Prahran, Melbourne, said she was considering freezing her eggs because she did not want have to children now, but wanted to safeguard her options for the future.

"Life is very busy at the moment with work and I don't feel now is the right time to have a baby," Anna said.

"Also if I'm really honest I've never been very maternal and don't feel a pulling desire to be a mother. But I am worried that in five or so years time, when I am in my late 30s that I may have impacted my chances of falling pregnant by waiting and in the chance I might change my mind.

"I am married and my husband hasn't wanted kids either, but it wouldn't be unlike him to suddenly change his mind and then I may be at an age that is optimal for having babies."

Unfortunately, she's found it hard to find people to talk to about her decision.

"I don't think it's commonly talked about... not in my circles," she said.

"I have spoken about it to two friends who both thought I was being melodramatic. They have children so it may be hard for them to see where I'm coming from.

"Women don't seem to talk enough about their journey to motherhood and the ups and downs... maybe due to being judged or just feeling so hopeless. But the journey isn't always smooth or successful, or something people are ready for (like me!) so it's good to know there are more resources and events becoming available."