It seems that everywhere we turn lately, egg freezing is the topic at hand. We see it in blogs and on our news feeds. There are even cocktail parties dedicated to the subject alone. As fertility preservation becomes a hot topic among our female friends and colleagues, it leaves a lot of us asking ourselves, “Should I freeze my eggs?”
There are many advantages to waiting to have children–more time to focus on our careers, our finances, and our relationships–but unfortunately biology does not wait. And while every second or third person we meet is considering freezing their eggs, we can’t help but pause and wonder whether it’s right for our lives today and in the future.
The decision to freeze one’s eggs is both very personal, and for many women, highly dependent on their stage of life and individual experiences. I decided to freeze my eggs after ending a years-long relationship in my thirties. I didn’t want the anxiety over my biological clock to push me into making bad relationship choices. I started planning my fertility the way I planned my career–I froze my eggs to press the pause button on my biological clock. I felt empowered. If my own biology didn’t cooperate, I had frozen eggs as a backup. I learnt very early on that the most important first step is gathering information and mapping next steps before deciding if it’s right for you.
“The earlier you start thinking about your fertility, the more options you have, especially if you want to have more than one child,” says Dr. Westphal, Medical Advisor at Future Family.
There are both medical and social reasons that make egg freezing an empowering choice. If you know that you’re not going to start your family until your mid-to-late thirties, freezing your eggs when you’re younger is a proactive way to manage your fertility health–the younger you are, the healthier your eggs. “The earlier you start thinking about your fertility, the more options you have, especially if you want to have more than one child,” says Dr. Westphal, Medical Advisor at Future Family and Director of Fertility Preservation and Third Party Reproduction at Stanford Medicine . “It’s a good idea to start thinking about doing some testing and talking to someone about the process.”
Freezing your younger eggs can increase your chances of pregnancy later, and may be especially important if you’re facing certain medical conditions. This includes having a family history of early menopause. If you’re facing chemotherapy or have been diagnosed with an immunologic disease, it’s a way that you can preserve your healthy eggs.
Because the chances of pregnancy from frozen eggs are best with younger eggs, it’s important to learn about the state of your fertility before you make the decision. We recommend hormone tests of your ovarian reserve, but it’s also important to understand that these tests are not a complete predictor of your future fertility. The tests offer a snapshot of your fertility as it is today. In some instances, doing a second test helps to see if there have been any changes.
When you freeze your eggs, there is a psychological relief from knowing you have taken an empowering step toward your future. After I knew that my younger eggs were safely frozen, I felt calmer. Even though there are no guarantees that you’ll have a baby from your frozen eggs, taking control of your fertility can make you feel proactive and more at peace about the possibilities of your future family.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says the outcome of fertilization and pregnancies from thawed frozen eggs are now comparable to that of eggs that are used immediately after retrieval.
Yes, it can. Thousands and thousands of babies have now been born from frozen eggs–and the science is rapidly improving. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says the outcome of fertilization and pregnancies from thawed frozen eggs are now comparable to that of eggs that are used immediately after retrieval. If you’re worried about developmental or genetic impacts, there is no scientific evidence of an increase in developmental or genetic problems in children born from In Vitro Fertilization cycles in which frozen eggs were used.
Once you decide to you use your frozen eggs, you need to contact the clinic and tell them you’re ready to use your eggs. You then go through the other half of IVF. You prep your uterus by monitoring your cycle or taking daily hormones, and embryologists unfreeze your eggs and fertilize them with your partner’s or donor sperm. Your embryos grow over three to five days. Your doctor then uses a small tube guided by an ultrasound on your abdomen to gently place your embryos back into your uterus so they can grow naturally. The procedure is very similar to getting a Pap smear. You don’t have to be put to sleep as you did for your egg retrieval. This process is usually painless.
In our next blog, we address some of the questions that follow from here; questions such as, “What is the process?”, “Should I worry about the medications,” and “How many eggs do I really need to guarantee a baby later?” Every woman’s journey is different and there are no guarantees. But there is one common aspect in every journey: when we choose to freeze our eggs, we are choosing to be more proactive about our own fertility health and future family. The more informed we can be about the process, the more confidently we can take the next steps.
Have you thought about freezing your eggs? Get in touch with us if you would like to start your fertility journey!
Rachel Lehmann-Haupt is Head of Content for Future Family and the author of the book, In Her Own Sweet Time: Egg Freezing and the New Frontiers of Family.