Have you thought about preserving or “freezing” your eggs? Has it been suggested to you to consider finding an egg donor or consider a path to parenthood other than the one your heart is set on? If so, you’re not alone.
More and more women reach out to us asking our opinion on what to do, whether they should freeze their eggs or search for an egg donor. We understand this is a hard subject; hard to think and talk about. While we know you know we can’t make this choice for you, we are here to create a safe place for questions and dialog about the weight of such a decision. Ultimately, you and your partner will need to educate yourselves as much as possible, talk openly with each other about your concerns/fears and talk with your doctor about the pros and cons in order to decide what’s right for you both as you take your next steps forward.
Q1: I’m 34 years old and extremely busy with my career. I have no plans to slow down, but worry I may miss my window to have children. My doctor suggests it may be a good idea to freeze my eggs. What are your thoughts? Is this a good idea?
A: Good question! As more women are waiting later and later to have children, Oocyte Cryopreservation (OC or egg freezing) is becoming more commonplace and accepted today. For some women, freezing their eggs could offer the best chances for family building, especially if she feels she won’t be ready for a pregnancy until her 40’s.
Here are a few reasons why women choose to freeze their eggs:
- being very busy with career or personal issues
- diagnosis of a serious illness like cancer that requires a treatment that harms fertility
- current lack of partner
- identifying as a sexual minority
Reproductive Aging and Your Fertility
As women age, the female egg (oocyte) supply naturally declines or can become damaged (by years of exposure to toxins that harm the cells). In fact, an aging reproductive system is one of the main reasons why women seek fertility treatments today.
Freezing eggs could offer the best chance of pregnancy later in life when it’s a better time for you to consider trying to conceive. If you want the best results, talk with a reputable fertility specialist to find out if freezing your eggs is a good option for you. If it is not, try not to worry. There are many other good ways to promote and support your natural fertility and egg health.
The Process of Oocyte Cryopreservation
The Oocyte Cryopreservation (OC) process is very similar to IVF. Most clinics perform tests in advance to make sure your follicle count and overall fertility are looking good. After that, you will be prescribed medications for about two weeks before your egg retrieval. Many fertility experts recommend retrieving about 10 eggs for every child you hope to have. Your fertility expert will share the number they feel is adequate and explain other parts of the process with you, such as the length the eggs can remain preserved, cost of the procedure and recovery, as well as the procedure for implanting the eggs when you are ready that I share below.
Ready to take your next steps? We highly recommend starting by signing up for your How to Improve Your Egg Health in 90 Days Checklist. This will help you begin a 90 Day Egg Health Program. On this program, you will be following a Fertility Diet, using targeted antioxidants and practicing Self-Fertility Massage.
All of these choices provide a good foundation to begin your journey. After your program, if you pursue OC, many reputable fertility clinics can be found online or by referral from your healthcare provider. Most suggest consultations to see if you are a good fit. Do your research before you commit to a clinic. Ask questions and look for reviews to make sure you’ll be getting the best possible care. Good luck with your family building journey!
Q2. I’m 44 years old and have been trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully for a few years. My doctor suggests it may be time to consider IVF with an egg donor. Is this really my best chance for a baby?
A: Thank you for sharing your story with us. I’m sorry, I can imagine this was challenging to hear. As long as you are still having a menstrual cycle (including ovulation) and your overall health is good in general, there is a chance for a natural pregnancy, although it may not be a monthly chance at age 44 because we know for some women the menstrual cycle becomes irregular.
I hope it will reassure you to learn that using an egg donor could significantly increase your chances of a successful pregnancy with IVF. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 12% of IVF cycles in the U.S. involve eggs retrieved from a donor. More good news: IVF with donor eggs has the highest success rate of any medical fertility treatment, between 52-75% at the best clinics.
For women mid-40s and up, who are battling a fertility health issue, or who have genetic risk factors (like balanced translocations), using donor eggs could be the best chance for a healthy pregnancy.
Whatever your choice, we wish you the best on your journey and please let us know if we can provide support. Don’t forget to download our free IVF checklist if you decide to move forward with IVF. If you use an egg donor, you will not need to complete a 90-day Egg Health Program, but the rest of our recommendations can still be used with good results.
- McHaney, S. (2014, Dec.). 7 Things Every Woman Should Know Before Freezing Her Eggs. PBS. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/freeze-eggs/
- Rowan, K. (2015, April). Is Freezing Your Eggs Worth the Cost? Live Science. Retrieved from: https://www.livescience.com/50519-is-freezing-your-eggs-worth-cost.html
- Rinkunas, S. (2016, June). Surprisingly, This is The Best Age To Freeze Your Eggs. The Cut. Retrieved from: https://www.thecut.com/2016/06/best-age-to-freeze-your-eggs.html
- 10 Myths About Pregnancy in your 40’s. (2017, Feb.). Donor Egg Bank USA. Retrieved from:
- Beltsos, A. (2014, Nov.). 10 Realities of Freezing Your Eggs: What Women Should Know. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-angeline-beltsos/10-realities-of-freezing-_b_5656344.html
- I Used An Egg Donor. (2017). Fit Pregnancy. Retrieved from: https://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/getting-pregnant/i-used-egg-donor