Fertility Preservation - When should I freeze my eggs?
Freeze your eggs in Chicago, IL
Page author Richard Sherbahn MD
Egg freezing for fertility preservation has become more popular over the last several years. As the technology improves, egg freezing success rates increase over time. As knowledge about this fertility preservation option spreads, women are increasingly considering freezing eggs for a later pregnancy.
Eggs and aging
People sometimes think fertility treatments, and particularly in vitro fertilization, can overcome the decline in fertility caused by advancing female age. However, this is only partially true.
Egg quality and quantity both begin declining slowly in most women in the late 20s and early 30s. Both the quantity and quality of eggs declines more rapidly after about 37-38 years of age. It becomes much more difficult to establish a viable pregnancy after age 40, and by 43 years of age few women are able to conceive and maintain a viable pregnancy. This is true even with aggressive in vitro fertilization treatments.
- The increased rate of chromosomal abnormalities in eggs of advanced age is the main cause of this decline in egg quality
Egg freezing can potentially lock in the quality of the woman's eggs at the age when she freezes them. She can then preserve her fertility to some extent by using those frozen eggs years later when the quality of the remaining eggs in her ovaries are significantly diminished.
- We believe that the quality of frozen eggs does not decline significantly over time
Egg freezing - practical issues and frequently asked questions, egg freezing FAQ's
Now that egg freezing is more of a mainstream fertility treatment and is being utilized much more, some questions about fertility preservation deserve careful consideration. For example:
When to freeze your eggs?
- At what age should a woman consider freezing her eggs?
- A woman does not currently have a partner she wants to start a family with but is hoping to find that person. At what age should she consider freezing her eggs versus continuing to wait for the right partner?
- The earlier a woman freezes her eggs, the better the quality will be when those eggs are eventually thawed and used. However, if women wait longer to freeze eggs, many would have a baby with someone - or will end up in a stable relationship that might soon result in a pregnancy - without the expense and inconvenience of egg freezing.
- If women wait until age 40 to freeze their eggs, even more of them would have had a baby through their sex life. However, at 40 some women will still not be ready to start a family, or will not yet have the partner/relationship they desire. At age 40 she can freeze eggs, but the expected success rate is low using eggs frozen at 40.
There are 2 basic risks involved in the decision-making about the right time for a woman to freeze her eggs for fertility preservation.
Risk of freezing too early
A woman might freeze her eggs too early and risk spending money and going through the inconvenience of ovarian stimulation and the egg harvesting and freezing procedure when she will never use those eggs because she will get pregnant from her sex life.
Risk of freezing too late
If women wait too long to have a family or freeze eggs they are at risk for never being able to have children with their own genetic material. On the other hand, success rates using donor eggs from a young woman are very high, even for recipient women in their late 40’s.
In summary, egg freezing can be a good method for women that are not ready to start a family to try to preserve their fertility for the future.
- The younger you are when you freeze your eggs, the better quality those eggs will be when thawed in the future.
- However, the younger a woman is when she freezes her eggs, the less likely she will ever need to thaw and use them in the future.
- For women who want to freeze eggs in order to attempt to extend their fertility, on the average the maximum cost-effectiveness for egg freezing is at about age 34-37.
The "cost-effectiveness" is derived from probabilities and math.
- Over time there is an increasing probability of getting into a long-term relationship that leads to pregnancy without egg freezing.
- Over time women also have declining quantity and quality of eggs remaining, and a resulting decline in the chance of having a successful pregnancy.
Can I freeze eggs?
Yes, it is fairly easy to do. The egg freezing process has been showing good success rates in some fertility clinics since about 2013.
- This is true for freezing eggs before about age 37
- There is little data available on success rates with frozen eggs from older women
Should I freeze my eggs?
Every woman needs to decide for herself how to balance all of the considerations involved. There is no simple, right answer for everyone (discussed further above).
How do you freeze your eggs?
If you want egg freezing in Chicago (or the surrounding area) call us to learn more and get started. We can freeze your eggs.
If you live far outside the Chicago area you should contact a local fertility clinic to discuss egg freezing.
What is the egg freezing process?
Egg freezing requires you to undergo:
- IVF ovarian stimulation - taking injectable medications for about 10 days and having some blood tests and ultrasound to monitor development of the eggs
- An egg retrieval procedure is done to harvest multiple eggs
- The eggs are frozen the same day and stored in liquid nitrogen tanks
How much does it cost to freeze your eggs?