Let’s face it–today’s woman has her eyes set on the prize. It might be a new or higher-ranking job, extended travel, or a life of leisure having babies isn’t anywhere on the achievement itinerary. In fact, a recent article published in the New York Times reports that women are delaying families even longer thanks to egg freezing as a component of their benefits package. Companies like Facebook and Apple have revealed that they offer the option to their female employees–opting to support their career goals and put family life on the back burner for later–maybe when women are in their 30’s, 40’s or even later.
But is it a wise decision? Dr. Hessel says freezers beware.
What’s the history of egg freezing?
Also known as oocyte cryopreservation, egg freezing has been approved for use in the United States for several years but it’s “experimental” label wasn’t lifted until 2012. Egg freezing has long been an option for women undergoing therapies that may rob them of their fertility–such as cancer treatment and some kinds of chemotherapy. But today’s woman may choose to freeze eggs in an attempt to stop or slow down her biological clock.
To freeze eggs, they are harvested from the ovaries, frozen and stored. When a woman is ready to have a baby, the eggs are thawed, fertilized and then implanted into the uterus as an embryo.
What’s the danger of waiting?
The problem is that many women are under the impression that they can hold off on baby making until they feel good and ready. And that window may be past their child-bearing or fertile years. Advanced age could make it difficult to support a pregnancy and this risk is compounded by the fact that only 30-50% of embryos that are implanted will grow into a fetus in an ideal physical setting. If you have enough eggs stored and enough money to keep trying you can have more than one embryo implanted. Fees for extraction and storage of 20 eggs or less can range from $10,000-$12,000 or perhaps even more. And remember that’s just storage. It will cost more to have them implanted.
Studies have shown that women view egg freezing as a backup plan in case they can’t get pregnant naturally, they don’t have a current partner, or to simply delay childbearing so they could “have as much fun as possible”.
What the experts say
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine does not support egg freezing for women of normal child bearing age who just want to delay having children.
Women who delay pregnancy in favor of freezing eggs for later and/or using them beyond their fertile years should not count on achieving a successful pregnancy. Both the risk and cost are high–so remember to consider carefully.
If you are considering egg freezing technology, Dr. Hessel would like to help you make the best decision. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.