If you are a woman who wants to have a child but are not ready or able to do so at the moment, then you might want to consider freezing your eggs. Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, is a process in which a woman undergoes treatments that enable a fertility doctor to retrieve her existing eggs to be frozen and stored for later use. Over the last several years, the suggestion for women in their 20s and 30s to consider egg freezing has become more common. If you have heard about this reproductive option and want to know more, or are just being introduced to the idea, you might be wondering why and how the procedure is done.
Why Should You Consider Freezing Your Eggs?
The bottom line when it comes to why you should consider freezing your eggs is the age factor. Younger eggs are simply more likely to contribute to a successful pregnancy than older eggs. After you freeze your eggs, you will continue to age, but your eggs will not. There are four main reasons most women consider freezing their eggs:
1. You Want to Have Younger Eggs Available When You are Ready to Have a Baby
Because age is the most important factor in getting pregnant, many women choose to freeze their eggs while they are in their reproductive prime but are not ready to have a child yet. Younger women have more eggs available for retrieval and those eggs are often higher in quality than older eggs. Having these younger eggs available will increase their chances of successfully conceiving when the woman decides she is ready to try to get pregnant.
What are some factors that would prompt a woman to put off getting pregnant? Perhaps they are focused on establishing themselves in a career and become more financially stable. Or, they might feel like their current circumstances are not ideal for having a child. Other women will freeze their eggs at this stage because they know they want to have children in the future but want to find the right partner to do it with.
2. You Have a Serious Illness and/or Prescribed Treatment Can Damage Your Fertility
If you have a serious illness that can affect your fertility, or if the treatment of a medical condition may harm your fertility, then you may want to consider freezing your eggs before the condition advances or you begin treatment.
The most common example of this is when a woman has cancer because chemotherapy and radiation can damage fertility. Egg freezing will allow the woman to have a biological child after recovery, either by getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) or by using a gestational carrier.
In other cases, an individual may want to undergo gender confirmation treatments that will change fertility, but would like the option of having a biological child in the future. This includes hormonal treatments and surgery. Therefore, before the individual begins medically transitioning, they may elect to have their eggs frozen.
3. You are Undergoing IVF and Have Objections to Freezing Embryos
Some women or couples want to undergo fertility treatments like IVF but have moral or religious objections to freezing a fertilized egg, or embryo. Some individuals find the freezing of embryos to be unethical but are not opposed to preserving the separate biological materials that join to create the embryo.
4. You are Donating Your Eggs
Some women elect to have their eggs frozen because they wish to donate them to someone else who is dealing with female factor infertility. Egg donors may know the recipient of their eggs and want to help them have a child, or they may donate to a fertility practice or agency for compensation.
When Should You Freeze Your Eggs
As with anything relating to female fertility, age is a big determining factor when considering freezing your eggs. Most women who freeze their eggs in their 30s. Statistically, eggs frozen before the age of 35 have the best success rates. So, if you’ve determined you want to freeze your eggs, don’t delay getting started in the process.
For More Information
At Carolina Conceptions we have the experience and expertise to guide you through important decisions during your fertility journey. We have a comprehensive Q&A page on elective egg freezing to answer questions not covered here. Our compassionate physicians, nurses, and staff will give you the support you need to feel comfortable during such a personal process. If you are interested in freezing your eggs or have other concerns about your fertility, call us at (919) 782-5911 to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online.