There's been a 'huge increase' in the number of women seeking to have their eggs frozen over the past year, according to an Irish fertility clinic.
Egg freezing sees a woman's eggs collected and preserved, so she can attempt to have children at a later point in her life.
It works on the premise that the eggs a woman produces in her 20s or early 30s are of a 'higher quality' than the eggs she produces in her late 30s.
There are many different reasons women consider such treatment - including for age-related or social reasons (such as work), or preserving fertility ahead of medical treatments such as chemotherapy.
Laura Hackett, fertility nurse specialist at Waterstone Clinic, told Newstalk Breakfast's Sarah Madden it would be 'fair to say' they've seen around a 100% increase in the numbers seeking treatment nationally in the last year.
She explained: “I’d see women come in who maybe aren’t 100% sure they’re with the right partner or they’re just single completely. What it really does is take that pressure off meeting someone… it’s so empowering.
“People aren’t getting distracted anymore. They realise what they want and they have the time and freedom now… and maybe have even got some savings.”
Here's how the process works.
A woman is given hormones to boost her follicle or egg count.
The eggs produced are then collected by fertility doctors, and are stored in a cryo-freezer.
At a later point, the eggs can be thawed and fertilised with either a partner's or a donor’s sperm when a woman wants to try and have a baby.
The age of the woman who freezes her eggs can make a major difference to the ultimate success of the treatment, although experts stress that egg freezing does not guarantee a baby in the future.
Ms Hackett explained: “If you freeze your eggs under the age of 32 and have 20 eggs frozen, you’d have a 90% chance of having one live-born baby out of that.
"It’s a lot less if you’re 37 - maybe a 40% chance. As you get up to 39, it’s less than 5% - it’s not worth freezing anymore, [given] the cost of it.”
Freezing eggs is not a cheap process, and is not covered by the State.
It can cost between €3,500 and €5,500 at the Waterstone Clinic, depending on the number of cycles needed to generate the required number of eggs.
Some employers - including a number of large tech firms - offer to cover the costs of such fertility treatments for their employers.
That has led to concerns employees are being tacitly encouraged to put off having children until later in life, despite the egg-freezing process not being a guaranteed success.
However, Laura said that hasn't been her experience when women do avail of such employment perks.
She said: “The question with that is, are you being put under pressure by work to do it and therefore, is it taking it from you?
“I don’t see that - I think people think it as such a good perk.”
It's not just egg freezing that has seen an increase, with the last year having also seen a 20% increase in the number of single women choosing to use donor sperm to start their family alone.