Don't let newlywed bliss prevent you from having thoughtful discussions about money with your partner.
Wedding season is on the way, and lovebirds are getting ready for married life. What they aren’t prepping for, though, is money misery—despite research showing that finances cause relationship stress for one in four Canadian couples.
What can newlyweds do to cross the threshold on the right financial foot? Avoid five of the biggest marital money mistakes.
1. Not discussing goals
If one partner is saving for a family, and the other is on a spending spree thinking parenthood is a long way off, that creates a lot of friction, says Shannon Lee Simmons, a certified financial planner, chartered investment manager and founder of the New School of Finance in Toronto. “Couples need to make sure they’re on the same page about their goals—and the time horizons for achieving them.” Once those “pillow-talk plans” are agreed upon, couples can look at their earnings and spending to make sure they can save enough money to make their goals happen.
2. Ignoring income
Partners often neglect to tell each other exactly how much they earn, and then simply split household expenses down the middle. But if one has a ton of discretionary income while the other earns less and goes into debt trying to keep up, both of them are hurt. “Couples need a financial arrangement that is equitable—for example, contributing to expenses based on a percentage of their income—instead of equal,” says Simmons. “These are the things that breed the most guilt, stress and fights.”
3. Becoming house poor
When couples overspend on a home, it leaves little funding for other priorities. “One of my clients cries every time it rains because she can’t afford to fix the leak in her house,” says Simmons. Similarly, couples who buy a house based on two incomes can dig themselves into a financial hole if they immediately have a family. “If you can barely afford your home and then you decide to have a couple of kids, there’s a seven-year period where it’s a financial nightmare between the mat leave and huge daycare bill,” she says. “A baby doesn’t care if you rent until you save more.”
4. Judging your partner’s spending
If you’ve been characterized as being bad with money, it can lead to shame and “secret” spending, says Simmons. So, for example, a yoga enthusiast might hide a Lululemon outfit, and a garage-band musician may have a hidden stash of instruments or equipment. “You don’t want to let your partner down, so you lie,” she says. “But what’s the bigger issue here—that you hid your spending or that your partner doesn’t care about your hobby? Couples need to consider the emotional return on investment.”
5. Not being a part of the financial team
Every couple has its own division of labour, so it’s fine for one partner to be the household’s “quarterback” on money matters. But the other still has to be on the team and in on the play, says Simmons. Say one partner is the AV guru and the other doesn’t know anything about the home-entertainment system. If the tech-master isn’t around, there will be no binge-watching. “Now imagine that feeling of uselessness if you didn’t know what to do with your finances? These are big stakes, so keeping yourself involved is super important.”
Here are some scary truths: 70 percent of new Alzheimer's patients in Canada will be women, and we're diagnosed with depression and dementia at twice the rate of men. But new research says there are three simple lifestyle changes we can make right now to keep our brains healthy as we age.
You brush your teeth to prevent tooth decay and check your blood pressure to monitor for signs of heart problems. But are you doing anything to keep your brain in tip-top shape? Because you should be. Brain health, which experts define as a combination of cognitive (memory, attention, thinking) and mental (emotional well-being) fitness, is a major, albeit under-the- radar, health issue for Canadian women.
It's major because as we age, so do our brains. Vascular changes can decrease blood flow; we can lose volume in key areas, including the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, the regions responsible for learning and memory. Myelin, a fatty material that makes up the protective coating around nerve fibres, starts to deteriorate, causing the brain to slow down. And nerve cells can develop plaques and tangles— structures caused by the buildup of proteins called beta-amyloids that can disrupt the brain's normal function. In some people, these and other signs of normal aging can cause mental health problems, strokes and brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's, and increase the risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Brain health is an under-the-radar issue because, though women are more likely to experience cognitive decline (thanks to dementia or Alzheimer's) and to suffer from depression, most of the research on these conditions still focuses on men.
Thankfully, studies are showing that straightforward lifestyle changes—exercising regularly and not smoking are at the top of the list—help shore up what researchers call "cognitive reserve," a buffer that "delays the changes or makes your body better equipped to handle those changes," says Lauren Drogos, a brain researcher at the University of Calgary.
In fact, Drogos says there's evidence to show that, in some people, even serious symptoms do not necessarily develop into cognitive impairment. She points to the Nun Study, a famous long-running research project on aging and Alzheimer's that has been tracking 678 nuns from convents across the United States since the mid-1980s. One of the nuns, Sister Mary, died at the age of 101 showing no outward signs of cognitive decline—but when researchers examined her brain, they were shocked to find she had "abundant neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, the classic lesions of Alzheimer's disease." Scientists don't know exactly why some people can have severe symptoms, such as plaques and tangles, without experiencing cognitive decline, but, happily, cases like Sister Mary do show that dementia isn't an inevitable part of aging.
And since women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with many of these problems, the more we consider brain health when making our day-to-day lifestyle decisions, the better. (Bonus: These changes also benefit your heart and help prevent other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and cancer.) So here's what you can do to take care of your brain.
This is your brain on exercise If you had to pick just one lifestyle change to make in the name of brain health, experts agree exercise tops the list—especially for women.
We consider neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to form new neural connections, an exciting part of a child's development, but we now know our brains can continue to grow, repair and improve as adults, too. Physical activity is a well-researched trigger. Not only can working out bolster our day-to-day functioning and alertness but it also appears to help us repair brain damage. Plus, it slows down aging and the onset of age-related brain diseases.
Working up a sweat and pumping up your heart rate can lead to a healthier vascular system in the brain, which decreases blood pressure and oxidative stress (when your body's antioxidants can't fight off free radicals), and increases antioxidant activity, according to Marc Poulin, an Alzheimer's researcher and professor of physiology at the University of Calgary. Vigorous exercise also floods the bloodstream with a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which readies the body for repair and heightens the brain's ability to learn and form new memories. Plus, hitting the gym helps the brain repair myelin; a lack of the nerve fibre–protecting substance is a factor in developing multiple sclerosis.
Exercising can also restore crucial brain volume. Research has shown that the hippocampus— home to memory, learning and emotion—starts shrinking after age 55 by about one to two percent a year, but just one year of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise done three days a week can increase its size by two percent.
And while most of the research is about the benefits of getting in your cardio, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, says strength training is also effective, as it can enhance brain performance and function by 11 to 17 percent. "Women live longer [than men], and age itself is the greatest risk factor for dementia," she says. "But the good news is when we look at the benefit of aerobic exercise on cognition in older adults, women seem to benefit more."
The takeaway: You can reap the rewards from even a 15-minute walk. Of course, the longer you exercise, the better, especially if you get your sweat on and your heart rate up. If you want to tick a few other brain health tips off your list, consider joining a team sport. It blends physical, social and cognitive skills, and "can also add pleasure and meaning to our lives," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.
If you have an office job and find you're sedentary most of the day, take a few minutes every hour or so to get up and move around. Research also suggests switching to a standup desk may improve your brain function.
Did you know? Taking care of a loved one—most often a spouse in your later years—can be a risk factor for developing depression and, eventually, dementia . But research out of the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto found, for the first time, that cognitive behavioural therapy, a form of talk therapy, can improve both mood and cognition.
This is your brain on sleep After a good night's sleep, you feel alert and ready to tackle the day. But that's not just because your brain has been resting. It has also been busy filing away memories and taking out the trash, so to speak, thanks to the glymphatic system, which washes the brain of waste materials. For example, a protein called betaamyloid, which is known to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's, acts as a neurotoxin when it builds up, killing neural cells in the brain. But a good sleep removes excess beta-amyloid and other waste materials, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
Because one of the common symptoms of Alzheimer's is disrupted sleep, it's unclear whether a lack of shut-eye should be considered part of the progression of the disease or a risk factor on its own, due to the buildup of beta-amyloids.
Nevertheless, poor sleep hastens your brain's aging process—much like sitting in the sun sans SPF speeds up your skin's aging process. And disturbed sleeping has been linked to all aspects of brain health, including an increased risk of depression and a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and reasoning. In one U.K. study out of University College London Medical School, middle-aged women who reported a drop in the average number of hours they slept had lower scores on cognitive tests involving reasoning and vocabulary.
What's more, our central clocks—a.k.a. our circadian rhythms—can drift from the patterns of our childhood, making it hard to get that much-needed rest. "As we age, our central clock is less sensitive to stimuli like light, food and physical activity," says Dr. Liu-Ambrose; this change makes it harder to fall, and stay, asleep. We can also become more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, which further disrupt those rhythms.
One way to combat these fluctuations is to try what seasoned travellers do for jet-lag recovery: Get exposure to real daylight and eat your meals on time to nudge your brain into a routine. And don't use bright screens at night, especially before bed, because they mimic sunlight and tell our circadian system that it's day, not night—and, therefore, not time to sleep. Those who need more help might consider light therapies that have been developed to treat seasonal affective disorder, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
The takeaway: Many researchers consider six to eight hours of sleep a night to be the standard sweet spot, though this can vary by individual. If you're routinely getting less than that and waking often in the night, not feeling refreshed in the morning and experiencing bouts of sleepiness during the day, talk to your doctor about sleep strategies—especially if you're experiencing anxiety or depression. In the short term, napping can reverse some of the effects of poor sleep, including memory loss and increased stress. And you only need a 30-minute catnap to feel the results.
This is your brain on a healthy diet There's no perfect "brain food," but eating a nutritious diet (lots of veggies and fruit, lean meat, fish and healthy fats) is the smartest way to maintain long-term brain function and memory, and to slow the development of brain diseases.
Getting enough of specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids is important but not the holy grail. University of Pittsburgh researchers recently found that people who eat broiled or baked fish at least once a week have larger brain volumes in the areas used for memory and cognition, despite varying levels of omega-3 in the fish they ate. Senior researcher James Becker concluded that he and his colleagues were "tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health, of which diet is just one part."
In a 2015 study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers looked at the broad set of eating habits of more than 900 people over 4 1/2 years and found that those who adhered to a diet high in fish, vegetables, nuts and berries, and low in fat and sugar, slowed down their brains' aging by about 7 1/2 years when compared to those with less-healthy diets. The healthy eaters cut their risk of Alzheimer's by up to 53 percent. And even when those people only adhered to the diet part time, they saw some benefits— an effect that has not been found in other diets, says Drogos.
The researchers dubbed the most promising cluster of these eating habits the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which blends the longevity-boosting Mediterranean diet and the heart-healthy low-fat DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that doctors recommend to patients at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. More studies need to be done on why it works, but in the meantime, there's no downside to eating healthier and ditching the junk.
The takeaway: Add more veggies to your diet. Research shows that older adults who report eating more of this food group perform better in mentally stimulating activities than those who don't.
Did you know? "Menopause brain" is a real thing. As with "pregnancy brain," its more famous counterpart, women approaching menopause really do experience memory problems and brain fog. Researchers think a drop in estrogen levels might be the cause.
Can you train your brain? Does firing up a brain-training app actually help improve your memory and ward off dementia? Sorry to disappoint, but right now, evidence for the benefits of computer-based brain games is weak, says Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal HealthResearch Institute. Brain games appear to help you learn to play them better, but research doesn't show that those tasks transfer to other aspects of brain performance. The same goes for crossword puzzles and sudoku, which help your vocabulary and math skills, but nothing more.
How to maintain your mental edge at any age
In your 30s: This is the time to make sure you establish healthy habits—such as getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and eating a good diet—that will affect your brain health throughout your adult years. "When it comes to maintaining brain health, the best time to start is yesterday," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. If you feel you need a boost at work, consider old-fashioned writing instead of typing on your computer. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that university students who made handwritten notes were better equipped to recall conceptual ideas from their professors' lectures than those who had typed notes on their laptops.
In your 40s and 50s: People in this age group are part of the "sandwich generation," and often face caring for their aging parents on top of dealing with their other work, financial and parenting obligations. So, unsurprisingly, they're super stressed—and this can affect both mental health and day-to-day brain function. Dr. Khatri says it's essential to prioritize and edit out activities and commitments that increase stress without adding value to your productivity or happiness. That's because "maintaining mental health in early and mid life is key to safeguarding cognitive health later on," she says. "Untreated depression in midlife doubles your risk of developing dementia in later life."
In your 60s and beyond: In your senior years, socializing with friends and family, and picking up activities that allow you to connect, such as volunteering, are key to maintaining brain health. And sorry, keeping up with folks on Facebook isn't enough. "Ask yourself: Is social media rounding out my real-life social experiences?" suggests Dr. Khatri. What you need is face-to-face interaction.
Want to transform the look of your bedroom? Inspired by board-and-batten siding, this headboard looks like a million bucks—on a way smaller budget. It's super simple to build and you can easily customize the size to fit your bed.
- Tape measure
- Table saw or handsaw
- 1/2-inch sheet of MDF
- 1- by 5-inch MDF board
- 1- by 3-inch MDF board
- Several 1- by 4-inch MDF boards
- Wood glue
- Clamps for drying (optional)
- Nail gun and nails
- Caulking gun and caulk
- Paint tray
- Paint roller and paintbrush
- Paint (We used Behr Ultra Pure White 1850)
- Screwdriver and screws
- Wood filler
Measure the width of your bed. Using the saw, cut the sheet (A) so it's 4 inches wider than the bed— this was 57 inches for us—and 66 inches long. (We had ours cut to size at The Home Depot.) Cut the 1- by 5-inch board (B) the same width as the sheet. Cut the 1- by 3-inch board (C) 4 inches longer than the width of the sheet, which was 61 inches for us.
Place the boards horizontally on top of the sheet so they're flush.
Measure from the bottom of the 1- by 5-inch board (B) to the bottom of the sheet. Cut four 1- by 4-inch boards (D) to the same length. Place them vertically equidistant on the sheet.
Create a grid by cutting remaining 1- by 4-inch boards (E) to fit horizontally between the vertical boards.
Glue each board in place on the sheet; let dry. Using the nail gun, secure each board in place. Caulk any edges (if you see gaps); let dry.
Paint the headboard. To make it easier to paint the sides, elevate the sheet on scrap pieces of wood.
To hang the headboard on the wall just above the baseboard, use the level, then screw it in place. Cover screw and nail holes with wood filler; let dry. Sand; touch up with paint.
"I've seen more changes this year than in the past three years," says Lisa Gittens, a tax expert at H&R Block.
Here are eight things families will want to be aware of when filling out their 2016 return.
1. Last chance on certain tax credits
The government is phasing out a handful of tax credits and focusing on larger benefits. The children's arts and fitness tax credits will be halved for the 2016 tax year, and cut completely next year, meaning families will no longer be able to defray costs for things like swimming lessons, ballet and tutoring. For post-secondary students, the education and textbook credits are being eliminated in 2017, although education amounts carried forward from previous years will still be claimable.
2. No more income splitting
Also gone is the Family Tax Cut, which lets the higher-earning spouse transfer up to $50,000 of income to the lower-earner. During the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to cut it, calling it a "tax break for the wealthy."
With the benefit gone, Gittens recommends a spousal RRSP, which allows the higher-earner to contribute to the lower-earning spouse's RRSP and claim the tax benefit. "You may have an RRSP set up, but you haven't thought about setting it up for your spouse. This is an ideal time to use that strategy," she says.
3. Changes to child benefits
The Canada Child Benefit was a signature feature of the 2016 budget, replacing the old Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada Child Tax Benefit. It's non-taxable, so you don't have to claim it. However, in order to continue to receive the benefit, both parents must file a return, even if one doesn't generate any income, says Gittens.
Also keep in mind that the benefit started in July, so you still have to claim the taxable UCC for the first six months of the year.
4. New tax rates
New tax rates mean you may or may not be pleasantly surprised by the size of your tax bill this year. If you're in the meaty middle that earns between $45,000 and $90,000, your rate will come down to 20.5 percent from 22 percent.
"Most Canadians will be receiving more money at the end of the day than they were under the old system," says Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC Wealth Strategies Group.
However, high-income earners will be paying more due to a new 33 percent bracket for people earnings more than $200,000.
5. Child care expenses
Childcare costs are usually the biggest deduction available for families, says Golombek. But what many people don't realize is that it goes beyond simply daycare. If you have a nanny, you can claim that expense, but also babysitting, if it's during the day, and summer or day camp.
6. Disability tax credit and family caregiver amount
If you have family members with a disability there are certain credits that may be available to you. The Disability Tax Credit is available to people with disabilities to reduce their taxes. For children under age 18, a parent or caregiver may be able to claim the unused amount.
If you're a caregiver to a family member with physical or mental impairments, you may also be able to claim an additional $2,121, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.
7. Selling your principal residence
Selling your home has typically not been something you've had to report on your taxes, because usually Canadians don't get taxed for capital gains on their principle residence. But starting with the 2016 tax year, individuals who sold their principal residence during the year must report the sale. The government is ostensibly doing this to crack down on people who try to pass off income-generating homes as their principal residence.
8. eFile early, get your refund early
Tax deadline is April 30, but if you want to get ahead of the game, file early, before the government is inundated with last-minute returns. You can still file the old paper return, but Gittens says you'll be looking at a turnaround time of anywhere up to eight weeks, versus 10-14 days for a return filed early and electronically.
It took a year for Linda to make the decision to freeze her eggs. “I’d always known that I wanted a child of my own someday,” she says. “I had thought, I’m not that old, it’s not a big deal. But when I turned 38, I decided it was time to proceed.” Linda, a Vancouver-based financial professional who had recently left a three-year relationship, met with a doctor to discuss her options. A career in banking had consumed her for 18 years, and she hadn’t taken the time to travel or focus on her personal life. Because she was single and didn’t see herself having a child any time soon, she wanted to take steps to make sure she could still have biological children of her own when she was ready.
If Linda’s decision doesn’t seem radical, consider that just 10 years ago, freezing her eggs wouldn’t have been a viable option. Consider, too, that the idea of “social egg freezing” made headlines recently when Apple, Facebook and other companies agreed to cover the cost of their employees’ egg freezing even when it’s done for no other reason than to delay childbearing.
Doctors have had the technology to freeze women’s eggs since the early 1980s, but the technique didn’t work very well and the egg-survival rates were low. Because eggs were frozen slowly, they spent more time in a dangerous cold zone, where ice crystals could form. Many times, the eggs wouldn’t survive the thaw- ing process. “Eggs are very, very fragile,” says Dr. Sonya Kashyap, medical director of Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver. While sperm freezes easily because it’s mostly DNA, a woman’s egg is at least 1,000 times bigger than the head of the sperm, it’s 95 percent water and it carries all the “machinery.”
So when vitrification was invented in Japan in the early 1990s, egg freezing changed dramatically. Dr. Dan Nayot, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at TCART Fertility Partners in Toronto, explains the process as a rapid-freezing method whereby the egg is placed in a special “antifreeze” solution to help draw some of the water out so the egg doesn’t burst when frozen. The solution is then cooled so quickly that water molecules have no time to form ice crystals, so the egg spends less time in the “danger zone.” Vitrification allows clinics to freeze then thaw eggs with a survival rate of up to 90 percent. So far, the success rates are equivalent to in-vitro fertilization (IVF): about a 40 to 50 percent chance of achieving a pregnancy, depending on the quality of the eggs.
The egg-freezing process To determine eligibility for the vitrification process, a woman undergoes a series of blood tests, ultrasounds and general medical tests to check her ovarian reserve (the quantity and quality of her eggs). The recommended age limit is under 38, but doctors will review each woman’s health and consider her age before confirming that she’s a candidate. Then, similar to the stages of IVF, patients inject themselves with follicle-stimulating hormone, a naturally occurring hormone that, when taken at higher dosages, can help a woman recruit and develop more eggs.
When Linda began the process, she gave herself a daily hormone injection, then progressed to twice-daily injections. “You feel a bit like a pincushion,” she says. Once her follicles were stimulated to an ideal level (follicles are monitored frequently with ultrasounds and blood work), her doctor retrieved the available eggs from the ovary using a transvaginal ultrasound (a probe placed inside the vagina) and a guided needle. The procedure took less than 20 minutes and, though Linda was sedated, she found it fairly painful. “I don’t think it was supposed to hurt, but it did,” she says. “You can feel them pushing into the ovary to suction out the eggs.” The eggs were then frozen and will be stored indefinitely for a fee until Linda chooses to create an embryo with a partner or a sperm donor and undergo IVF.
How your age affects your fertility When it comes to fertility, a woman’s age is the biggest factor. According to data from Statistics Canada, in 2010, the average age of mothers at childbirth was 30.1 (up from 23.5 in 1945). The current percentage of over-30 new moms is about two and a half times greater than it was in 1974.
So why are women waiting to have kids if fertility starts to decline after 30 and dramatically declines after 35? Statistics Canada reports that this delay in child-bearing is in part due to more women in the workforce, more women seeking out higher education and improved methods of birth control.
Not being in a relationship is a prevalent reason these days, too, says Dr. Kashyap. “Commonly, women used to come to us for fertility preservation for cancer treatment,” she says. “But now, one of the most common reasons is that women don’t have partners.” And even though she doesn’t think it’s fair to put pressure on women to have children when they’re not ready financially, relationship-wise or career-wise, she does admit that the sooner women try to conceive, the better—naturally or otherwise.
Unfortunately, if you want to use your frozen eggs at 40 or 41, but they’re not viable when thawed, your alternatives are limited. However, if you try to conceive with your frozen eggs at 35 and experience challenges, there are more options, such as trying to retrieve more viable eggs.
“Most single women at 30 are optimistic,” says Dr. William Schoolcraft, founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. “If I tell a 30-year-old that she might not get married until she’s 43, she would be, like, ‘Wow, you’re a real downer.’ It’s nothing personal, but it might happen, so freeze your eggs now.”
The reality is that many women, like Linda, wait until their late 30s because they haven’t met someone with whom to have children. “Thirty-seven is the most common age that women come in requesting egg freezing,” says Dr. Schoolcraft. “They’re hitting the panic button, which is ironic because once their motivation is high and it’s obvious they should freeze their eggs, they’ve probably already waited too long.” Dr. Schoolcraft has also seen a woman’s parents come in with her to discuss egg preservation. “Some parents want to give their daughter the money to freeze her eggs because they want grandchildren.”
The cost of freezing your eggs Linda’s parents were both supportive when she told them she was going to freeze her eggs. Otherwise, only her close friends know. “I have a few friends who are the same age as me and single, too, and they wish they could do it,” says Linda. “I think cost is the main deterrent.” The process is expensive and generally not covered under provincial and territorial health plans unless “medically necessary,” for example, in the case of those undergoing potentially sterilizing treatments for illnesses like cancer. The price tag comes in at around $10,000: $7,000 for egg retrieval and freezing, not including the price of medications, and $3,000 for IVF. In addition, there are storage fees of approximately $200 a year, depending on the clinic.
The risks of delaying motherhood Even after the physical discomfort and expense of the process, egg freezing doesn’t guarantee that women will be able to have children whenever they’re ready. “When I counsel single women about fertility, I reinforce that the other reason to have a baby sooner—like, say, under 35, rather than at 45—is for them to consider what’s in the best interest of that child,” says Dr. William Buckett, director of McGill University Health Centre’s Reproductive Centre in Montreal. Health complications that could arise from carrying a baby at an older age should be considered, including an increased risk of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, diabetes, bleeding in the third trimester, placenta previa, chromosome disorder, low-lying placenta and having to deliver by caesarean.
Dr. Buckett adds that the risk of congenital birth defects, while marginal, also increases with both egg freezing and IVF. So while egg freezing is now a viable option and has resulted in the births of many healthy babies, Dr. Buckett cautions that it’s far from ideal. “The general population needs to be aware that it’s better to get pregnant spontaneously than to get pregnant with eggs that are frozen and thawed.” And because vitrification is relatively new, most doctors emphasize that clinics don’t have reliable longterm data to prove success rates, as many patients have frozen their eggs but haven’t returned to use them yet.
The egg-retrieval process itself also carries some risk. In about one in 1,500 cases, the high level of hormones used to stimulate the follicles can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can result in hospitalization. The risk of bleeding, infection and injury is also present. “If we have a couple who has infertility, then we would accept these small risks for the benefits of a pregnancy,” says Dr. Buckett. “If someone doesn’t have infertility, then they’re accepting these risks for a more nebulous benefit.”
Despite the risks and the costs, for Linda, it was worth it. Having biological children someday is very important to her. “I’ve always wanted kids,” she says. “I don’t want to lose out on the ability to have my own child just because my life isn’t on a conventional timeline. Hopefully, by freezing my eggs I’ve taken the steps to have my own biological child at some point.”
This technology, though still new, is rapidly changing the face of reproductive choices in Canada.