At some point in most women’s lives, the question of when and if they want to have children crosses their mind. Something will trigger the topic– a friend’s baby announcement, or a conversation with a loved one– and the idea is planted; even if just in the background of a million other thoughts.
The reality of being a woman is that fertility, the ability to have children using one’s own eggs, is finite. Women are only fertile from when they start menstruating through to menopause which for some women begins in their 40s. For some, prime fertility drops off even earlier than that.
But what if that window of fertility simply isn’t the right time to have children? For a growing number of women, career pursuits, financial stability and relationships, or some combination of these make having a baby seem like something for the future instead of now.
Women who wish to have a baby eventually, but are not ready immediately are beginning to opt for egg freezing procedures.
Egg freezing refers to an invasive procedure for egg retrieval where the eggs are extracted from a woman’s body and stored in carefully regulated conditions. This ensures that the eggs can be fertilized at a later time.
Egg freezing may help a press pause on a woman’s biological clock, buying them time and peace of mind.
The Benefits of Egg Freezing
Egg freezing allows women to focus on career goals without the pressure of a ticking biological clock. Whether you are finishing school or climbing the corporate ladder or starting your own business, your job might be your focus in your 20s and 30s. Egg freezing allows you to devote your time to your personal aspirations without worry.
Egg freezing means women can protect their finite supply of eggs. A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have and as she ages, the limited supply of eggs declines. Women in their 20s experience average pregnancy rates of 25 percent each month compared to women in their 30s whose rates decrease to 15 percent each month.
Egg freezing allows women to protect the current health and quality of their eggs. As women age, the biological mechanisms involved in the even division of chromosomes has felt the effects of normal aging and begins to make errors. This increases the rate of miscarriages and results in embryos that do not have the normal number of chromosomes.
Egg freezing relieves overall stress related to staying on a time sensitive life plan. Women who have opted to freeze their eggs report feeling more freedom in their personal life for dating and experiencing life without a guilty reminder that they are wasting time.
Egg Freezing Success Rates
The process of egg freezing was considered experimental until 2012 when the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) deemed the practice as comparably successful to the birth rate from fresh or frozen embryos.
It’s difficult to determine statistical success rates, since many of the eggs that have been frozen have not yet been retrieved and implanted, but the overall success rates of delivering a live baby from a once-frozen egg are on the rise.
The progress came at the hands of a new method of egg freezing called vitrification. In vitrification, freezing happens so rapidly that that the water molecules in the cell don’t have time to form ice crystals, and instead instantaneously solidify into a glass-like structure.
There is no egg freezing age limit, but overall success rates depend on the number and quality of the eggs extracted, which usually works in relation to age.
A new model reported on last year in the journal “Human Reproduction” states that a woman’s age at the time of freezing and how many eggs she has frozen provides a helpful tool for predicting an individual woman’s chance at live birth after egg freezing.
The study predicts that women 35 or under who freeze 10 eggs have about a 70% chance of at least one live birth later on. If they undergo a second cycle and increase that number to 20 eggs, their chances jump to 90%.
This new model is especially important because it predicts success based on the woman’s age at the time of freezing down to the individual year. This is key, because doctors know that fertility changes drastically throughout a woman’s 30s. A calculator based on this research can be found here.
Egg freezing is growing in popularity and researchers will continue to collect data as more frozen eggs are implanted.
Please contact our offices for any additional egg freezing information and services we provide.