More Canadians are freezing their eggs. Why and what to know about the process
For her 25th birthday this year, Shania Bhopa gave a gift to her future self.
The PhD student from Hamilton decided to freeze her eggs as an “insurance policy” to have a baby in the future as she focuses on her career right now.
Bhopa’s goal is to have her first child a decade from now, around the age of 35.
“A weight’s been lifted off my shoulder,” said Bhopa, who underwent the egg-freezing procedure at Markham Fertility Centre last month.
“I’ve always wanted to be a mum, and I think that’s one of my purposes in life and … I know that’s not my timing right now,” she told Global News in an interview.
Egg freezing and other fertility treatments are on the rise in Canada, as couples delay their plans to have kids for a variety of reasons.
In 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of babies born in Canada fell to a nearly 15-year low and the fertility rate hit a record low of 1.41 children per woman.
And in 2021, close to one-quarter (24 per cent) of Canadians aged 15 to 49 changed their fertility plans because of the pandemic, according to Statistics Canada.
Canada is already considered a “late” childbearing nation and its fertility rate, which is an estimate of the average number of live births a female can be expected to have in her lifetime, has dipped over the last decade.
“We have been seeing really since the pandemic started, an increase in the number of women or people with ovaries who are accessing fertility preservation in order to secure their future fertility,” said Carolynn Dubé, executive director with Fertility Matters Canada.
Dubé said this helps alleviate the pressure of a “ticking clock” for women who want to put off starting a family to focus on their professional life.
“It gives them a greater chance to bring home a baby because their eggs have been frozen … at a younger age,” she said.
Several years ago, big tech companies like Google, Apple and Facebook began paying for female employees to freeze their eggs as a way to attract more young women to their staff.
It’s a growing trend with some companies in Canada now also offering the freezing of eggs or sperm, as part of an expanded suite of fertility and family planning benefits.
Dubé said there is now a great awareness with more women openly having conservations online about their family planning options.
“We’re seeing more and more people through social media sharing, and I feel that this younger generation of women especially are really actively seeking information about their health, their reproductive health.”
What is egg freezing?
Women’s fertility starts to decline after the age of 30 and more significantly when they cross 35.
That is why egg freezing is a route many take, but it comes with a heavy price – roughly $10,000 or more in Canada for as many eggs as can be retrieved. This includes costs for the medication and procedure and an annual storage fee.
The egg-freezing procedure is similar to the IVF treatment in that the eggs are removed from a woman’s body.
After screening, medication is given to stimulate the ovaries so they produce eggs – a process that can take up to two weeks, said Dr. Togas Tulandi, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at McGill University in Montreal.
After stimulation, an ultrasound-guided procedure takes the eggs out for freezing and storing.
Tulandi said the best age to preserve eggs is in the 20s and early 30s.
The longer you postpone, the less worthwhile it becomes.
“We have requests of patients who want to … preserve the eggs at a later age, but the problem is not just the number of eggs, but the quality of egg is decreased when you are close to 40 or even after 40 especially,” he said.
Egg freezing is also an “amazing medical option” for young cancer patients who need to undergo treatment that could affect future fertility, Dubé adds.
Are there any risks?
For Bhopa, who documented her 11-day egg-freezing journey on social media, the whole process was a “roller-coaster” ride, she says.
The daily medication injections made her body “really sore” and she said her ovaries felt like “going from limes to grapefruits” in size in her mid-section.
“It’s such a strange sensation,” Bhopa said.
While egg freezing is considered a safe and effective process, some women may experience mild symptoms like bloating and headaches, said Dubé.
The procedure can also result in ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, when the ovaries become enlarged and cysts are formed due to the medication, said Tulandi.
But this gets better over time and no surgery is needed, he added.
Symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome include fatigue, nausea, headaches, abdominal pain, breast tenderness and irritability, according to an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
There is no expiry date for the frozen eggs, which remain at the same age they were originally stored, but many patients don’t come back to use them.
Bhopa says when the time comes, she will try having a baby naturally for a couple of months before she goes back to the clinic to use her frozen eggs.
“Knowing that my likelihood, especially with my career goals, (that) I can have a happy, healthy baby potentially closer to 35, so that is very refreshing.”
— with files from The Canadian Press.
Air Canada flights delayed due to IT issue – CTV News
Air Canada reported a technical issue with its flight communications system on Thursday, causing delays across the country for the second time in a week.
In a statement to CTVNews.ca, the Montreal-based company said it was experiencing a “temporary technical issue” with the system it uses to communicate with aircraft and monitor the performance of its operations.
By Thursday afternoon, the airline said the system had “begun to stabilize,” though flights were expected to be impacted for the remainder of the day.
“The communicator system has begun to stabilize, and aircraft continue to move although still at a lower than normal rate. As a result, customers may experience delays and in some instances cancellations as we move through recovery,” Air Canada said.
“Customers are advised to check the status of their flight before going to the airport as we anticipate the impact will persist through the balance of the day.”
As a result of the system failure, the airline said it implemented a “flexible policy,” allowing customers who wished to change their travel plans to do so at no cost.
Speaking to reporters before question period, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the federal government has been in touch with Air Canada and is encouraging the airline to get its communications system back up and running “as quickly as possible.”
“They understand the consequences of these delays and we’ll keep following up on the situation,” said Alghabra.
The system failure caused delays for the majority of flights scheduled to depart from the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Thursday morning, said Michel Rosset, communications manager for the Winnipeg Airports Authority.
Some Air Canada flights in the afternoon and evening were scheduled to run on time at the Winnipeg airport, but Rosset advised passengers to look online for updated flight information as that could change.
“With flights, even on a good day, things could change pretty quickly. So I’d recommend, if you’re looking for updated (flight information) throughout the day, the best bet is just to head to our website,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
Leah Batstone, communications and marketing advisor for the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, said the Halifax airport was aware of the “IT issue” that Air Canada was experiencing and recommended passengers to keep tabs on their flight status.
“As always, travellers are advised to check their flight status directly with their airline before coming to the airport,” Batstone said in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca.
Air Canada was forced to ground its planes last week due to a similar problem with its communications system, which delayed nearly half its flights.
The airline said the issue it experienced this Thursday was in the “same systems as that of May 25, but it was unrelated.”
“We have been in the process of upgrading this system using a third-party supplier’s technology. Air Canada will continue to work with the manufacturer to ensure stability in the system in the future,” it said.
“We apologize for the impact on our customers and appreciate their patience. We are working hard to get people on their way as soon as possible.”
Air Canada flight delays at Toronto Pearson | CTV News – CTV News Toronto
Several Air Canada flights are delayed at Toronto Pearson International Airport due to a temporary technical issue.
The Canadian airline said its system used to communicate with aircraft and monitor operational performance is impacted. Flights were delayed all across the airline’s system as a result, a spokesperson for Air Canada confirmed to CTV News Toronto.
At around 1:30 p.m., the airline said the communicator system has “begun to stabilize,” with flights continuing to move “although still at a lower than normal rate.”
“As a result, customers may experience delays and in some instances cancellations as we move through recovery,” the statement reads.
Greater Toronto Airports Authority media manager Rachel Bertone told CTV News Toronto that Toronto Pearson passengers are encouraged to check their flight status before making their way to the airport.
“We have also put in place a flexible policy for those who wish to change their travel plans at no cost,” Air Canada said.
As of Thursday afternoon, numerous Air Canada flights initially scheduled to leave Toronto Pearson this morning have been delayed to the afternoon.
Plus, many of Air Canada’s flights headed to the Toronto airport from places like Orlando, Fla., Vancouver, B.C., and New York’s LaGuardia Airport, have been delayed.
In terms of cancellations, however, just over two per cent of departures and roughly 3.5 per cent of arrivals have been cancelled – though it should be noted these percentages include all airlines.
“We apologize to those affected, and appreciate their patience,” the statement reads.
This is the second time in a week that Air Canada has suffered a technical issue with its computer system, which delayed nearly half of all its flights.
The airline confirmed in its statement, “The issue today was in the same systems as that of May 25, but it was unrelated.”
Air Canada has not said how long the technical issue is expected to last, but said they are “working hard” to get fliers on their way as quickly as they can.
Air Canada flight communicator system breaks down, causing widespread delays – CBC.ca
Air Canada is experiencing an issue with one of its internal systems, leading to flight delays across its network.
The airline said Thursday it is “experiencing a temporary technical issue with its communicator system, one of the systems that we use to communicate with aircraft and monitor operational performance.”
The issue is causing delays across the system, with 234 flights delayed so far on Thursday and 34 cancellations, according to FlightAware.com. That’s about 44 per cent of the airline’s daily load.
Air Canada’s flanker brand Rouge is also impacted, with 78 delays, or 52 per cent of its flights, as well as 11 cancellations.
It’s the second time in less than a week that the airline has been hit by a problem with its communicator system that caused delays or cancellations. On May 25, U.S. aviation regulator the FAA ordered a ground stop of all Air Canada flights due to unspecified internal computer issues. The outage lasted a little over an hour.
Air Canada says the impacted system is the same as the one from last week, but says the two outages are “unrelated.”
“We have been in the process of upgrading this system using a third-party supplier’s technology. Air Canada will continue to work with the manufacturer to ensure stability in the system in the future.”
Duncan Dee, a former executive at the airline, described the affected system as an “electronic tracking system to allow them to identify the location of their aircraft at any given time within their network.”
“It’s the system which allows them to track their aircraft and to communicate with flights in a more automated way,” he told CBC News.
He was scheduled to fly on an Air Canada flight himself on Thursday and said it was disheartening to see the system fail twice “in such a short period of time. This isn’t something that happens very regularly … because obviously systems aren’t supposed to go down and certainly not to go down so soon, one after the other.”
Government monitoring situation
Early in the afternoon, the airline said the system has begun to “stabilize” but is not yet back to normal and delays continue.
The airline is advising anyone who is supposed to fly today to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport.
“We are working hard to rectify this situation,” the airline told CBC News in an emailed statement. “We apologize to those affected, and appreciate their patience.”
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he has been in constant contact with the airline and has been assured that the company is doing everything it can.
“I encourage them to get it up as quickly as possible,” Alghabra said. “They understand the consequences of these delays … they are working on restoring it as quickly as possible.”
Last month, the government tabled new rules designed to make it harder for airlines to wriggle out of compensating passengers for costly delays and cancellations. Those rules have yet to be tabled, but Alghabra said what’s happening on Thursday would be covered by existing rules since it’s being caused by something the airline can control.
“Based on current rules, passengers are protected,” he said. “Air Canada has obligations to passengers.”
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