Elective Egg Freezing
QUESTION: Why is egg freezing becoming an important and more common option for women?
ANSWER: When considering a woman’s fertility, age is usually the most important factor. Some women feel that they can wait until their late 30s or 40s to have children. What they may not realize is that the number and quality of their eggs diminishes with advancing age. The age of peak fertility is approximately 24 years old and continues to decline thereafter. In many women, fertility may begin to significantly decline between 35-40 years of age. As fertility declines, the chance of miscarriage also increases.
For a variety of reasons, many women are choosing to delay building their families: they’re focusing on career opportunities, they’re pursuing advanced professional degrees, they may not be sure about becoming parent, or they haven’t found the right partner. Egg freezing is an option to preserve their eggs at a time when fertility may still be near its peak. With this approach, women may use their frozen eggs years several years later, when they’re ready to build a family.
Egg freezing has been used for decades and has been shown to be safe and effective. In 2012, American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) declared that egg freezing was no longer experimental and could be used for fertility preservation.
While egg freezing does not provide a guarantee for future pregnancy, it may increase the likelihood of having a child if a woman chooses to delay childbearing for many year after her years of peak fertility.
- QUESTION: When should a woman freeze her eggs?
ANSWER: In order to take advantage of premium egg quality and quantity, the optimal time to freeze eggs is most likely when a woman is in her 20s and early 30s.
- QUESTION: What does the egg freezing process entail?
ANSWER: First, a patient will meet with her physician to learn about the benefits and limitations of egg freezing. She will then have hormonal blood tests and a pelvic ultrasound to assess the quality and quantity of eggs in her ovaries (known as ovarian reserve). Based upon the results of testing, the physician will provide an estimate of her response to fertility treatment and approximate how many eggs may be obtained for freezing.
The patient will take injectable hormonal medication to safely stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. The process takes about two weeks. The physician will determine when the she is ready for egg retrieval. During the retrieval process, multiple eggs are harvested and then frozen using vitrification (flash-freezing method). When she’s ready to attempt pregnancy, the eggs are thawed, fertilized with sperm, and the fertilized embryo(s)]are transferred into the patient’s uterus.
Question: What are fertility assessment tests? What will the tests indicate?
ANSWER: Women who are curious or have concerns about their fertility and ovarian reserve, and/or are considering egg freezing or other elective fertility treatments can do fertility assessment testing.
CCRM Boston’s Fertility Assessment Program includes:
- Ultrasound evaluation of the uterus and the number of resting eggs in the ovaries.
- Reproductive hormones (blood tests) including FSH, LH, Estradiol, and Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) to evaluate ovarian reserve.
- Regroup Office appointment with physician to review and interpret test results.