Demographic Winter: Egg Freezing and Assisted Reproduction

The process of egg freezing and assisted reproduction treatments are a recurring choice because of the demographic winter affecting Spain. The demographic winter is the aging of the population. In recent years, there have been more deaths than births in Spain, so that there are currently 250,000 fewer births than are required to ensure the sustainability of the population.

The number of children per woman is well below the percentage needed to maintain the replacement of a population. This fact is associated with the aging of the population.

What are the causes of demographic winter?

The main causes of demographic winter have their origin in the current model of society. There is a negative correlation between the birth rate and women’s participation in the labor force. The time that women dedicate to academic training has increased and, as a consequence, the start of working life has been delayed.

As a result, the age of stability is also delayed, which increases the average age at which the first child is born. This implies the risk of difficulties in conceiving, because a woman’s fertility begins to decline after the age of 30. In this sense, the probability of women having more than 2 children is very low.

Solutions for the demographic winter

There are different solutions to solve or alleviate the demographic winter. Some European countries apply measures to stimulate the birth rate, through aid to families with children and reconciliation policies to facilitate parents’ professional careers.

In other countries, there is recognition in the tax and pension systems, as well as in the time dedicated to home and childcare.

On the other hand, immigration, although it can contribute, is not the solution to reduce the low fertility rate.

For this reason, an effective solution may be egg freezing and assisted reproduction.

Egg freezing in the demographic winter

Women’s fertility begins to decline at the age of 30. From the age of 35 it becomes more striking and when women reach the age of 40 it drops to a minimum. For this reason, when women consider pregnancy over the age of 35, they have difficulties in conceiving, which depend on their age.

Egg freezing allows women to preserve their fertility when they are young, with the aim of using them later, when they wish to have children. The frozen eggs maintain the characteristics of the age at which they were extracted.

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It is a simple treatment for the patient. And although it is costly and complex from a biological point of view, it guarantees the woman a greater probability of a healthy pregnancy.

Initially, this treatment was intended to preserve fertility in oncology patients. However, it is used primarily in women who delay childbearing because of education or work, but especially in those who cannot find a partner to start a family.

The results of the treatment are very favorable when the woman is under 35 years of age, somewhat more limited up to the age of 39. After the age of 40, specialists do not recommend this treatment.

Help of assisted reproduction in the demographic winter

As a consequence of the demographic winter, assisted reproduction treatments have also been changing over the last 20 years. Nowadays, the age of both partners is a problem that requires the need for assisted reproductive treatments.

Normally, a woman turns to assisted reproduction to have children with her own eggs, and this is generally possible as long as the woman is under 38 years of age. Above this age, the probability of pregnancy decreases. Even so, it is normal to consider In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments with a woman’s own eggs when she is younger than 42 years old.

When the woman is over 43 years old, it is almost impossible to achieve a pregnancy with her own eggs, so it is advisable to have an oocyte donation treatment or to receive donor eggs. In this way, a pregnancy can be achieved using the eggs of another woman, healthy and under 35 years of age, who physically resembles the recipient woman. Generally, this treatment is not usually considered as a patient’s first choice, but it is currently the most successful treatment in assisted reproduction.

Another possible option is embryo donation, which consists of using embryos donated by couples who no longer wish to have offspring and who have kept them frozen after their IVF or egg donation treatment.

Delayed childbearing, above the age of 40, is a social reality for which solutions must be found. In this sense, egg freezing and assisted reproduction are alternatives that improve fertility and the possibility of pregnancy in women with reproductively complicated ages.