Pros and Cons of Oocyte Cryopreservation
Since egg freezing became a viable reproductive technology, fertility preservation has been a concern for cancer patients, women in their late 30s, and women with a family history of early menopause. In recent years many high-tech companies have offered egg freezing as a benefit to their employees, so they can concentrate on their careers and not worry about having a baby until later. Increasingly, egg freezing clinics are popping up around the country, targeting millennial women with advertising and information events.
Egg quality and quantity are affected by a woman’s age. Many women don’t know that their fertility peaks in their early 20s and starts to decline slightly around age 28. The rate of decline increases at age 35. You may still produce high-quality eggs in your 30s, but by your late 30s egg quality and quantity begin to decline sharply. At age 40 a woman has only a 5 percent chance of getting pregnant with her own eggs. Does it make sense to freeze your eggs during your 20s? Let’s discuss pros and cons.
4 Reasons to Freeze
1) Fertility preservation makes a lot of sense if you are going to have cancer treatment. Cancer treatment may affect your ability to have a biological child, depending on what type of chemotherapy or radiation you’re having. Ask your oncologist before you begin treatment if you want to consider freezing your eggs for future use.
2) A family history of early menopause is another good reason to make sure you have young and viable eggs when you want to have a baby. You may need to freeze in your 20s if you want to build a family in your late 30s.
3) Some women in their 30s have frozen their eggs because they haven’t met a partner yet that they want to raise a family with. A recent study found this was the major reason women invested in egg freezing, not choosing to postpone childbearing out of concern for their careers. Should you take this step in your 20s? That’s a very personal decision.
4) Another consideration is military deployment. If you’re in the military, you could spend your fertile years in places where it isn’t safe or convenient to get pregnant and have a child. Egg freezing could mean you can have a healthy, biological child later.
Reasons to Think Twice about Freezing
1) Egg freezing is less expensive than ever, but it’s still a substantial investment. The cost of freezing runs from $7,000 to $15,000, but that’s not the total cost. You also pay for the fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs, which can run into thousands of dollars. Another cost is storage of the frozen eggs until you are ready to use them. The earlier you freeze, the longer you will have to pay storage fees. And when you want to use the eggs, you will have to undergo IVF treatment or use a gestational surrogate who will have IVF treatment. If the company you work for doesn’t offer fertility benefits, an IVF baby can cost up to $100,000 out of pocket, depending on how many IVF cycles and what dosage of fertility drugs you need.
2) There’s not a lot of history yet on how successful IVF is with frozen eggs. SART, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, does not compile data separately on success rates with frozen eggs. And the vast majority of eggs that have been frozen have not yet been used. A study published in 2010 examined the IVF success rates of 600 women using donor eggs, half of whom used fresh eggs and the other half used frozen eggs. The researchers found no significant difference between fresh and frozen eggs in pregnancy rates. What has been observed over several years is that the age of the egg donor is significant, and that older women who receive donor eggs from younger women get pregnant at the same rate as younger women.
So what’s the right thing to do? If you’re in your 20s, don’t panic if you’re not in the right place to start a family. Time is still on your side. And you have time to decide if egg freezing and IVF is right for you.