Reva Kamte is 34, single and leads a rather hectic life managing her cloth business in south Mumbai.
A recent casual remark by her gynaecologist that the quality of the ova or the eggs produced by a woman’s ovaries starts declining after the age of 35, began niggling her.
She wants to have children, but hasn’t found the “right man”.
So last December, Kamte decided to store her ova at an egg bank at the Malpani Infertility Clinic in Colaba.
Although still in an experimental stage, banking on their healthy eggs is now an option that women, who choose to delay motherhood, are exploring. It is the egg, which gets fertilised by a sperm to form a foetus. “Conceiving a baby becomes difficult with age. The egg quality after 35 declines drastically increasing the risk of the baby having physical or mental deformities,” said Dr Anirudh Malpani.
While infertility specialists have been using donor eggs for test tube babies for couples unable to conceive, banking on one’s own healthy eggs is a recent trend.
In January 2008, Lilavati Hospital in Bandra was the first to start such a bank. So far, ten women have deposited their eggs at the egg bank and the hospital claims to receive at least three enquiries every month. Across the city, some 60 women, in their early 30s have stored their eggs with various in-vitro fertility (IVF) centers. So far, none of the eggs stored in the banks have been fertilised to make a baby.
Recently, a popular model stored her eggs at Lilavati Hospital’s egg bank. “They want to keep their options open without compromising on their careers or the desired man,” said Dr Hrishikesh Pai, gynaecologist and in-vitro fertilisation specialist at Lilavati Hospital.
A study conducted by two prominent UK Universities, published in January in the Journal Public Library of Science One, has found that nearly 95 per cent of the women in the 30s have only an average of 12 per cent of their original egg reserves. It further diminishes to three per cent by the age of 40.
While most of the women opting for such banks are ambitious or single, it is also an option available to cancer patients whose ovaries are likely to get damaged when exposed to treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Alpana, a 28-year-old cervical cancer patient from Andheri was asked to deposit her ova in an egg bank by her cancer specialist.
However, IVF expert Dr Gautam Allahbadia says these banks are just an option and will only pick up after the results will be out. The procedure is not only new but also expensive and tedious. Moreover, the success rate abroad, where the technique has been in use for several years, varies from 10 to 30 per cent.