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Egg freezing may seem like an option only career-driven women need to think about, but the reality is that it’s a viable fertility option for a variety of reasons.
Some women delay having children because they don’t find the right partner until they are older. Egg freezing may also be beneficial for women who have cancer or another ailment where the treatment might impact the health of her eggs or reproductive system. In all of these options, women who freeze their eggs can then decide to fertilize them at suitable time for them.
Women are born with all of their eggs, and throughout our lives, we are constantly losing them. Some women may have to go through medical treatments that can also accelerate this process.
The quality of eggs also declines as a woman ages, which can make it harder to get pregnant as well as lead to miscarriage or children with genetic abnormalities.
The thought behind egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is that a woman can remove some of her eggs while she is younger so as to “freeze them in time” at an age when they are more likely to be healthy.
Egg freezing involves harvesting eggs from a woman’s ovary, freezing them and then storing them to later be fertilized. Prior to egg retrieval, women need to take fertility medications to make multiple eggs develop.
Given that not all eggs harvested will be mature or be genetically normal (even in a young woman), freezing many eggs increases the chances for a viable pregnancy in the future.
I counsel women to think about this option if they are relatively certain that they would like to have children someday but are unsure of when that will be.
Women can often carry a pregnancy long past when their ovaries can provide them with viable eggs. Due to fertility advancements, many women are successfully having children at older ages than the previous generation.
Another point to consider in the egg freezing process is the price. Depending on a woman’s insurance, egg retrieval can cost about $10,000 and storage is about $500 a year.
Egg freezing can also be an emotional process for a variety of reasons. Although egg freezing is not a guarantee, having a backup for the future can alleviate some of the stress associated with aging when a women is not ready to be pregnant.
Some women find it reassuring that they will have a better chance of becoming pregnant when they choose to do so
Fertility specialists such as myself as well as ob/gyns can discuss the process of egg freezing. When a woman knows all of her fertility options, she can make the best decision for herself and her future family.
— Mary Rausch, MD, reproductive endocrinologist and fertility specialist at Northwell Health Fertility