Until relatively recently, egg freezing was used for the minority of women facing infertility issues due to medical conditions like cancer and it’s side effects.
Currently one of the most exciting aspects of egg freezing is the opportunity for women in their late-20s and early-30s to preserve their own chances of fertility if they don’t foresee themselves getting pregnant any time soon. Consider that there hundreds of large companies offering significant benefits to keep eager and talented females working longer – with the knowledge that later-in-life fertility is a more realistic option this way.
Considering Egg Freezing as a Fertility Option? Here are 8 Things You’ll Want to Know
- Your age matters. One thing that is abundantly clear is that age matters when it comes to getting pregnant. And, the age of the egg matters too. If you review IVF success rates, you’ll see that women who enjoy the greatest success rates are all in the younger age brackets. This is because egg viability decreases as you age. So, if you are considering freezing your own eggs, you may want to do it sooner – rather than later. If you are an overall healthy woman, with no other infertility diagnosis, your IVF success rate will fall into the age bracket at which your eggs were frozen.
- You don’t have to have a partner. As many as 75% of women who opt to freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons do so because they haven’t found a partner yet, and they fear that Mr. Right may come after the fertility window closes. If you have the right partner, but aren’t ready to get pregnant until your later-30s or 40s, you may want to consider freezing embryos rather than eggs.
- Egg freezing is not a totally simple procedure. The egg freezing process can be fairly physically and emotionally demanding due to the hormones involved. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks from start to finish. The shots you receive to produce multiple mature egg cells are the same ones used for women who undergo other fertility treatments. They come with their own host of side effects and – often – a ride on the hormonal emotional roller coaster. These factors need to be taken into consideration.
- It’s not inexpensive. On average, it costs can range from $10,000 – $11,000 for a single egg retrieval cycle, but can vary depending on region and can even vary at the local level. The fertility drugs required cost an additional $3000 to $5000. Once eggs are frozen, they need to be stored at subzero temperatures until you use them, and this service averages $650 per year. Unless you work for a progressive company, elective egg freezing is not covered by health insurance policies. If you have an infertility diagnosis, your health insurance may cover a portion of the costs.
- You may need more than one cycle. Depending on how many eggs are produced in a single egg retrieval cycle, you may need more than one. Consider that by puberty, women only have about 300,000 egg cells left (from the original 1 million+). Of these, only about 300-400 will be released via ovulation, and not all of those are viable. If you are planning on freezing your eggs, most fertility experts recommend freezing at least 10 eggs per pregnancy to increase your chances of a full-term live birth. These eggs will be tested for viability when you are interested in IVF, and only a portion of the thawed eggs will be viable. Of these, there is no guarantee that the resulting embryo will be viable, implant and/or grow to full-term. Most egg retrieval cycles yield between 10 and 20 eggs. Thus, if you want to have more than one child, you may require more than one cycle to freeze enough eggs.
- Pregnancy is not guaranteed. Women at the younger end of the age spectrum when they freeze their eggs have the highest chances of success, while women who wait for egg freezing have the lowest chances of success. So, it’s important that you have weighed all the risks and benefits, including the chances that it might not work, before undergoing the investment – both financially and emotionally.
- You may want to consider freezing embryos. If you have found your Mr. Right, but the timing for parenting is still wrong, you may want to consider freezing embryos rather than eggs. The IVF success rates for younger women who use their frozen embryos is significantly higher than it is for younger women who undergo IVF using their frozen eggs.
- You can enjoy better peace of mind. If you’ve weighed the pros and cons, and have decided egg freezing is for you, you’ll find a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Now, YOU get to determine when the time is right to become a parent without the risk of giving up career dreams or settling down with the wrong person. Your fertility options are greater than if you wait for the future with fingers crossed.