Also known as fertility preservation, egg freezing is a new method for preserving a woman’s egg so that she can consider pregnancy later in life. The process is a step toward ensuring that the woman can have biological children in the future, when it is a more ideal time in her life to become a parent.
Age & Fertility
The aging process has a negative effect on a woman’s fertility, with a decline beginning after age 35. Many modern women choose to focus on education or their careers in their 20s and 30s, and having children during this time in their lives may hold them back from achieving their goals. Egg freezing allows these women to pursue their goals while reducing the likelihood of fertility loss due to age. Eggs are suspended in time at the age they are frozen, and so aren’t subject to the aging process, making them better candidates for successful fertilization when the woman is ready to have children.
The process of egg freezing does not require male participation or a sperm donor as the eggs will not be fertilized before they are frozen. This makes egg freezing a great option for women who are not in a serious relationship, but still want to plan for their futures.
Egg freezing is also frequently used when women have been recently diagnosed with cancer. Chemotherapy can damage a woman’s eggs, but with egg freezing the woman’s eggs can be preserved while they are healthy before undergoing treatment.
Process & Procedure
Egg freezing is a relatively simple process. The woman is given medications to encourage egg production so that multiple eggs are ripened in one cycle. Normally only one egg is released each month, but harvesting and freezing multiple eggs provides the option for more than one opportunity to conceive when the woman is ready. The woman’s cycle and egg development will be monitored through a series of ultrasounds. Once her eggs are ripe, they will be removed in a 45 minute, in-office procedure. The eggs are then flash-frozen and preserved until the woman is ready to use them. The eggs can remain frozen for up to 10 years without any change in quality.
To get the most benefit from egg freezing, women should freeze their eggs at as young an age as possible, but even a matter of a few years can make a difference in egg quality and fertility.