When should you freeze your eggs? The egg freezing process takes just a few weeks and can preserve your eggs when you're younger, reducing the risk of fertility issues when you're actually ready to grow your family. Plus, the procedure itself is not very invasive and can be finished in less than an hour. Learn the best time to freeze your eggs so you can truly take your reproductive health in your own hands.
How Age Impacts Fertility
Studies reveal that age is one of the biggest factors in a woman's ovarian reserve, which refers to the quantity and quality of eggs. Total oocyte number and quality declines the older a woman gets, as do implantation rates. Fertility in women peaks in the late teens through late 20s. The decline begins in most women around age 30 and becomes increasingly rapid by the mid-30s. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, at age 40 only one in 10 women will get pregnant during one menstrual cycle.
Why Should I Freeze My Eggs?
Women choose to freeze their eggs for a number of reasons. A medical issue might arise that could impact fertility, such as a cancer diagnosis that requires chemotherapy. Alternatively, many many choose to freeze their eggs for personal reasons. They may be focused on their career or other life goals and don't want to feel rushed to have a baby simply due to age. Preserving eggs at a younger age can increase fertility odds later on.
How Does Egg Freezing Work?
Vitrification: Egg Freezing Technique
Cryopreservation technology has paved the way for further success in IVF treatment. Vitrification makes it possible to cool and warm human eggs and embryos with less cryo-damage than ‘slow-freeze’ and allows for nearly intact embryo survival. This method has contributed to very high survival rates for eggs as well, resulting in a complete transformation of IVF treatment.
The Egg Freezing Process
There are four primary stages of the egg freezing process:
Preparation: Consult with a fertility doctor to make sure you're a good candidate for egg freezing. You can also get bloodwork done to test the likelihood that you have viable eggs.
Stimulation: You'll take either hormone pills or injections to stimulate egg production. Instead of just one egg, the idea is to trigger your body to create multiple eggs during a single cycle.
Retrieval: This 15-minute procedure requires sedation and utilizes a vaginal probe to reach the ovarian follicles where eggs have matured. The fluid inside the follicles is aspirated out with a needle and the eggs are extracted by an embryologist.
Freezing: Mature eggs are flash frozen with liquid nitrogen to maximize their survival rates. They're stored until you're ready to use them.
What Age Should You Freeze Your Eggs?
Wondering, "Should I freeze my eggs at 35?" General medical consensus points to around age 35 as the best time to freeze your eggs. A 2015 study looked at the probability of live birth by comparing freezing eggs to taking no action at all. The highest probability (74%) occurred when eggs were preserved between the ages of 30 and 34. The study also found that egg freezing at 37 years old brought the largest benefit while also being the most cost effective age. The study revealed no benefit of freezing eggs between early 20s and 30 years old versus taking no action at all.
Is There an Age Limit to Egg Freezing?
There is no egg freezing age limit. However, eggs may be better preserved if you choose to freeze them sooner rather than later. It's always smart to discuss your options with a fertility specialist rather than making decisions based on a broad age range.
How Long Can Eggs Be Frozen?
There is no limit to how long you can freeze your eggs in the U.S. There's also no research to indicate that egg quality drops over time. The process of cryopreservation stops the aging process. However, it's difficult to tell the quality of the eggs to begin with; so it's impossible to guarantee that using frozen eggs will result in a live birth later on in life.
Chances of a Successful Pregnancy With Frozen Eggs
There are a few different factors to consider when looking at the chances of a successful pregnancy with frozen eggs. Both age and the number of eggs frozen can affect individual success rates. According to a study by New York University, the success rate for a live birth can be as high as 70% when the following two factors were met:
Eggs were frozen before the woman reached 38 years old
Thawed more than 20 eggs
As you can see, evidence shows that younger eggs are more viable, but the number of eggs can also impact pregnancy success rates.
How Much Does It Cost to Freeze Your Eggs?
At Oma, the cost for egg freezing is $5,500-$6,000, and includes the retrieval and freezing processes, as well as all of the preparatory appointments for blood work, ultrasounds, tests, and monitoring. You also get one free year of storage for your eggs; after that the annual fee is $500. There are just two additional costs you'll need to cover: injectable medications and anesthesia. It's important to have a full understanding of all the costs involved with egg freezing so you can truly plan for your family on your own terms.