I've decided to freeze my eggs. Not the sort you get in a carton, the sort you find in an ovary. I'm single, 35 next week and believe it's the sensible thing to do. My first doctor's appointment is on Friday which is also Valentine's Day. Seems fitting.
It's a topical subject because the Government has announced a consultation into the current, 10-year limit on egg freezing. That is to say, if you freeze your eggs today, they can only be kept for 10 years before they need to be thrown out. Not sure where. Maybe the compost. Or you can donate them for research purposes.
This limit was set by the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act when tinkering with women's eggs in a laboratory was a relatively new science. There were fears about the quality of eggs declining; angst that no limit would lead to hordes of geriatric mothers proudly carting woollen bundles around their retirement homes. One expert told me there were also worries that, without a limit, Britain's freezer capacities might be stretched. That seems unlikely given that a human egg is infinitely smaller than the full-stop at the end of this sentence but we are talking 30 years ago.
Critics of the Government's decision thunder that extending the limit is an Orwellian step to a world where too many babies are made in petri dishes. They think it'll become easier for sharp-elbowed career women to delay having babies, pushing it back further than we have already.
Let me refute this by saying there's nothing easy about coming to such a decision. When I was 10, I assumed that I'd be married by now with a couple of children, probably a dog. I didn't imagine that I'd find myself knocked out while a doctor stuck a needle inside me to retrieve as many eggs as possible. Going down this route is an emotional and hormonal process and it will cost me around £8,000. It isn't the dream.
It also isn't any guarantee. Every doctor I've consulted has reiterated that freezing doesn't mean you end up with a baby; it just improves your chances if you're a certain age and haven't managed it yet. The earlier you freeze the better because the younger the eggs, which is why extending the limit is so important. I have a 31-year-old friend who's considering it, but under the current law, they'd be destroyed when she's just 41, essentially penalising her for having the pragmatism to forward plan.
What egg freezing does give you is more autonomy at an age where it can feel as if you have just months left to shack up with someone – anyone! – before time runs out. Talking to friends who've frozen theirs, they have a renewed sense of calm in a world where, as a 30-something, your mother, your married friends, even the nice lady in the corner shop might be exerting pressure on you to "get on and have a baby". If I freeze my eggs now, in four or five years' time when my fertility may be waning, I'll have fresh ones ready to go. I do not anticipate using these when I'm 60.
"I have long held the belief that, following the advent of the contraceptive pill, modern egg freezing represents the second wave of female emancipation," said Professor Geeta Nargund, a fertility expert writing recently in favour of extending the limit. I agree.
If you're lucky enough to be able to afford it, egg freezing may give you more control over your reproductive options. This is a good thing.