New measures on freezing eggs leave women in the cold | Eva Wiseman

Why the government’s latest egg-freezing extension is cold comfort for women

This morning, for the second time this week, I heard the phrase “drops off a cliff” during a discussion about fertility. The second time this week. Through my life, of course, I’ve heard it plenty, spiking sharply in my 30s. A phrase that, as far as I’m aware, is only ever used when trying to scare a woman who has had the audacity to arrive at 35 without at least one child hanging from her nipple, only ever used to describe the rocky internal geography of a woman’s body, scattered with gravel, echoing with screams.

This cliff does not exist. The area in question suffers from dramatic TripAdvisor reviews, people who were promised perhaps sandy beaches and a lovely picnic-spot, but instead found themselves having to walk a little way in quite the wrong shoes. “One star,” types Lorraine from Watford. ‘Treacherous cliff, mediocre café at the top, quiche was too salty and such a small slice, too.” From certain angles in bad weather, yes, the drop looks steep, with eggs crashing madly against the rocks. But in daylight, it is really more of a gentle hill. The stat suggesting it becomes basically impossible for a woman to conceive after 35 originated from data collected more than 300 years ago. Recent research is more reassuring, showing that while there are definitely changes that happen to our bodies which affect our ability to have children, 78% of women aged 35-40 conceive within a year. Age has an impact, but every woman’s fertility is different at the same age.

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