Postponing Fertility with Egg Freezing
At The Valley Hospital Fertility Center, we are pleased to offer elective egg freezing (also known as egg harvesting) as an attractive option for healthy women who wish to postpone their fertility into the future. Elective egg freezing can give you peace of mind knowing that when you are ready to start or expand your family, you will have your own young healthy eggs available to you. Egg freezing can eliminate the pressure of the "ticking" of your biological clock and the stress involved in rushing into a relationship to have children.
Fertility Declines after Age 35
Thanks to increased educational and career opportunities, many women have chosen to postpone childbearing until they are in their 30s or even 40s. While these are wonderful options for women, it is important to be aware that your future fertility will in large part be affected by your age and the quality of your eggs. Many women do not realize that their fertility begins to decline after age 30, with their ability to conceive a child with their own eggs dropping sharply after age 38. Research has shown that a woman's chance of conceiving after age 40 with her own eggs is dramatically diminished.
Because a baby girl is born with all the eggs she will ever have - she will not make new eggs over her lifetime - a woman's eggs age as she ages. They also diminish in quality and quantity. Many women are under the impression that they can extend their fertility as long as they want. Even though high-profile celebrities who are over age 40 and have given birth to single babies or twins do not acknowledge the fact publicly, a majority of them have had to turn to donor eggs to conceive.
Younger Eggs Hold More Potential
Because a woman's eggs age as she does, harvesting eggs before age 35 offers a woman the ability to use younger, healthier eggs when she is ready to conceive a child.
Egg freezing begins the same way that in vitro fertilization (IVF) does. A woman's ovaries are stimulated with fertility medications so that multiple eggs mature during a single cycle. The number of eggs retrieved varies from woman to woman, depending on her age and how the woman's body responds to the medications. The egg retrieval process is performed under general anesthesia, and the woman goes home the same day.
After the eggs are harvested, they are evaluated in our Embryology Laboratory, frozen in a special solution, and then preserved in liquid nitrogen. All eggs retrieved and frozen at our laboratory are stored and maintained here on site.
When a woman desires to become pregnant, the eggs are thawed and then fertilized using a technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which introduces one single sperm directly into a single egg. After several days in the laboratory, the resulting embryo(s) are then transferred into her uterus.
Because egg freezing is still relatively new, scientists are not yet sure how long eggs can be frozen and then successfully thawed and fertilized, but they expect they can be frozen for up to 10 years. Although a woman should not assume that her fertility is 100 percent guaranteed, egg freezing has led to hundreds of births throughout the world.
Benefits of Egg Freezing Over Embryo Freezing
Freezing eggs is a more delicate procedure than freezing embryos, which has been accomplished successfully for many years. Egg freezing, however, offers several benefits over embryo freezing:
- A woman who chooses egg freezing does not need to be in a committed relationship with a partner who can provide sperm or does not need to seek a sperm donor;
- A woman who freezes her eggs holds complete ownership of the frozen eggs, whereby both parties who contribute to frozen embryos hold ownership; and
- The disposal of unwanted frozen eggs does not, for many people, carry the same ethical or religious concerns that disposing of unwanted frozen embryos does.
We encourage you to check with your health insurance carrier before beginning any fertility procedures, including elective egg freezing. Although many insurance companies do not cover egg freezing, there may be resources available to you through advocacy groups or other sources. The Valley Hospital Fertility Center offers several financing options.
For More Information
To learn more about our egg freezing options, please call 201-634-5400 to make an appointment to speak to one of our physicians, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.