WHEN SHOULD YOU START THINKING ABOUT FREEZING YOUR EGGS?
If you’re in your mid-to-late twenties, the time to start thinking about egg freezing—crazy as it may seem–is now.
Study and training, a busy social life, and climbing an exciting career ladder are things we all want and should celebrate. But modern life can come with modern problems.
You can take the pill for years, experiencing artificially reassuring clockwork monthly cycles while your real biological clock ticks on. When the time comes and you decide to try for a baby, depressingly you may stop the pill and find you actually are not as fertile as you thought.
A fertility paradigm shift has happened in the last five years since break-though scientific research has made egg freezing technology mainstream. More and more women are opting to preserve their eggs for later pregnancy, what doctors call “social” or elective egg freezing. Finally there is an option to put your biological clock on hold. But when is the right time to do it?
EGG FREEZING – the facts
Eggs can now be flash frozen by “vitrification and kept in a glass-like state preserved in liquid nitrogen”.
When you freeze your eggs, aging of the egg stops completely, as if you had stopped time. You can feasible keep eggs frozen for more than 10 years and their potential for fertilization is completely retained.
MOST ELIGIBLE BACHELORETTE
To determine whether you’re eligible for the procedure, the first step is to take a blood test called AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) after at least a month off the pill.
The ideal candidate for egg freezing is a woman with a high egg count and with strong egg quality (which is best at younger ages – ideally under 34 years). It is someone who is prepared to freeze more than 20-30 eggs – even if this means signing up for more than one round of treatment to achieve your goal.
From there, a treatment involves two weeks of hormone injections (needles are tiny) to increase the production of eggs and tracking fertility health until it’s time to retrieve them, usually about 10-12 days into the process. The procedure is painfree (performed with sedation), and only lasts about 15-20 minutes. Most women feel comfortable straight away, only requiring one day off work.
A common misconception is that egg freezing uses up eggs from your egg reserve – this isn’t true. We lose a group of eggs that come to maturity every month – egg freezing rescues these eggs to make a baby later.
HOW EARLY IS TOO EARLY?
Seriously, the earlier the better, as the younger you are the better your egg quality. I would suggest that patients start considering freezing their eggs at the age of 28.
HOW LATE IS TOO LATE?
I would support any woman wanting to freeze her eggs up to the age of 41. However the chance of having a baby from a frozen egg is proportional to the quality of the egg. After 35, one in two eggs is badly damaged. At 40, only one in ten eggs may be normal. Women over 35 need to be prepared to freeze a lot more eggs to achieve a plan B that is ultimately successful.
Once thawed, 80-90% of eggs survive —but your ultimate success will vary and depend on the quality of the egg itself. Simply put, what goes in is what comes out. So the younger you were when you froze, the better your chance of having one or more babies using your eggs.
So how much are we talking?
It costs about $10,000 (1 treatment) – $40,000 (4 treatments) to freeze your eggs, depending on medications and individual fertility potential (i.e. how many treatments are recommended for you). In a career girl’s language, it costs anywhere from a classic Chanel suit to a Hermes Kelly bag.
If you’ve got the funds and having a baby is a must for you down the road – think about it now. Egg freezing is definitely something worth researching at the youngest age practical as it is definitely more cost-effective and successful for women in their twenties and early thirties. It’s easy to see why it can be far better to take pro-active action, rather find out there’s an obstacle standing in the way of your pregnancy.
My favorite part of my job? Helping women go from stressed about fertility to having to it all. The joy that motherhood brings is priceless – and in this generation smart, proactive woman should no longer have to miss out on having a family if that’s what they want.
Interested in learning more about Egg Freeze and what it could mean for you? Women’s Health Melbourne is holding an information session at our practice to allow you learn more in a relaxed, informal session with a specialised fertility doctor. Click here for more information