The facts about egg freezingElective oocyte cryopreservation commonly known as “egg freezing” has been increasing in popularity since it was labeled non-experimental by ASRM, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, in 2012. This has come with an explosion of attention from media outlets, sometimes surprisingly negative.
To set the record straight, Egg Freezing is a way to address preserving a woman’s future fertility, given that our reproductive potential starts to sharply decline at age 35.
By freezing your eggs as a younger woman. The hope is that if you decide later in life to have children, the previously frozen eggs would provide you with a better opportunity to succeed. Elective egg freezing has been criticized as “selling false hope”; as “scaring women into thinking if they don’t freeze their eggs they will never have children” as well as “creating a divide between the haves and have nots due to cost”. Let me take this opportunity to share some facts on the issue of egg freezing and on women’s reproductive biology in general.
Physicians and educators have not done a good job of teaching girls and young women about their reproductive potential and when is the best time to access one’s fertility. We focus so much of our attention on contraception that most women do not have a good working knowledge of their biological clock and when one’s fertility is likely on the decline. The biological clock exists. Period. Women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, and by the time they hit their mid-thirties the chance of getting pregnant per month is approximately 15%, at age 40 7-10%, and at age 45 <1%. Yes, we all know women who have become pregnant without fertility treatment after age 35 (and well into their 40’s); however, the truth of the matter is that it is just more difficult to bring home a healthy baby.
That being said, egg freezing is not a guarantee. Far from it. No one is trying to claim that. But it’s the best option that we have right now, the technology is getting better every day, and the cost to freeze your eggs has dropped considerably in the past few years! Here at IRMS NJ we offer very competitive rate packages.
The key to egg freezing is to start the process early, ideally prior to age 35. The success rates from eggs frozen prior to turning 35 approach 50% – a whole lot better than 15% at 35, 10% at 40 and 1% at 45!
So I urge the media to give the full story when talking about egg freezing. Let women known the truth about their reproductive options. Everyone deserves a consult with a doctor to determine if egg freezing is right for her. It is not right for everyone, but we owe it to ourselves to find out.
Stephanie M. Thompson, MD is a Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility specialist at The Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science (IRMS) at Saint Barnabas in Livingston, NJ. She is an attending physician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, and Board Certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.