Eggs in snowWhen the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lifted the “experimental” label from egg freezing recently, many women considered the possibilities this procedure afforded them in their family-planning efforts. Egg freezing gives women the unique opportunity to delay childbearing to a better time in their life when they can conceive using their egg and the assistance of fertility treatments.

What Is Egg Freezing?

Egg freezing, also referred to as oocyte freezing, describes the process where a woman freezes her eggs and stores them for future use. The freezing process, called vitrification, made headlines in the recent past as the technique experienced great strides in effectiveness, reducing the amount of damage sometimes suffered by the delicate egg in the freezing process. In the past, this was considered an option mainly for cancer patients who wanted to preserve their fertility and were facing treatments that could cause infertility.

The perception that egg freezing is only for cancer patients, however, changed over the past few years. More and more women see egg freezing as an option for preserving their fertility for later in life, when the timing is better. Headlines in magazines have touted the technique as an end to age-related infertility.

What You May Not Know About Age-Related Infertility

Many women are unaware that their age affects their fertility as early as it does. A common misconception that women have is that they can have babies well into their late 30s and that after 40, they can always use in vitro fertilization (IVF) as an option if necessary.

These beliefs are neither completely false nor completely true. A woman is born with all of her eggs, and they age with her. By the time a women is 30, she has only about 10 percent of her eggs left. By the end of her 30s, the chances of getting pregnant each month steeply decline, with an even sharper drop-off after 40. The reasons for this drop are numerous, but one of them is directly related to egg quality.

While IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) can help get a woman pregnant at this point, it is far from guaranteed that she will be successful and is largely dependent on the quality of the egg used for the procedure. In fact, women who use a donor egg for ART treatments have success rates equal to that of the age of the woman who donated the egg rather than the patient’s age.

Freezing Eggs Is a Great Option for Women Who Want to Delay Childbirth

For women who need more time before they are ready to start their families, freezing eggs is a great way to help lay the foundation for more successful childbirth later in life. The younger she is when she freezes her eggs, the greater the chances for success in fertility treatment as well. Talk to your doctor if you think that egg freezing is right for you.

Sources:

Rosenblum, Emma. “Later, Baby: Will Freezing Your Eggs Free Your Career?” www.businessweek.com. 17 April 2014. Web. 6 August 2014. < http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-17/new-egg-freezing-technology-eases-womens-career-family-angst>

Gurevich, Rachel. “Egg Freezing and Vitrification.” Infertility.about.com. 21 October 2013. Web. 6 August 2014.<http://infertility.about.com/od/infertilitytreatments/a/vitrification.htm>