Women today are choosing to have children later in life than ever before, with 76,000 predicted to opt for a procedure called egg freezing by 2018. For women who want to become pregnant (but not just yet), egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, can be an effective way to cheat their biological clocks and delay pregnancy until a later stage. But what’s really involved? These are five things you should know if you’re considering putting your eggs on ice.
1. If You’re Under 35, You’re a Prime Candidate
It should come as no surprise that the younger you are when you freeze your eggs, the better your chances of pregnancy success. Waiting until you’re 40 to have your eggs frozen is comparable to trying to get pregnant at 40—in other words, it’s a long shot. Egg freezing typically works best for women in their 20s and early 30s. The good news is, your age alone may not be a deal breaker. Women over the age of 35 may still benefit from egg freezing, so it’s best to discuss with a doctor if you are considering the option. Initial testing will determine if egg freezing is a viable option for you.
2. It Takes About Two Weeks
With egg freezing comes a time commitment to consider. The entire process—from the first visit to the time the eggs are retrieved—takes roughly two or three weeks. A handful of doctor’s visits occur during this period, in which you’ll receive ultrasounds to check your ovaries, and blood tests to check levels of estrogen and other hormones. These tests are to ensure that you are a good candidate for successful egg retrieval.
3. Pregnancy Is Not Guaranteed
As with the old-fashioned way, there’s no guarantee that egg freezing will lead to a pregnancy. Until you’re ready to use your frozen eggs, you won’t know which, if any, are viable. When you do decide you’re ready to start a family, eggs must survive the thaw, fertilize, implant, and hopefully result in a baby. Along the way, any of these steps may not happen. However, it’s important to note that egg freezing can’t hurt your odds either: It won’t decrease your fertility or impact your chances of conceiving naturally down the road.
4. The Cost Is Steep
Perhaps the largest obstacle for most women is the hefty price tag that comes with egg freezing. The average cost of egg freezing in the U.S. is $10,000, which typically covers the tests and extraction. Storing eggs can cost upwards of $300 – $500 per year. Unfortunately, many insurance policies don’t cover the fees, though some providers may help foot the bill for some medications. Keep in mind, however, that freezing your eggs may save thousands of dollars in fertility treatment by reducing the total number of fertility treatments required down the road.
5. It Can Bring You Peace of Mind
According to a study in Fertility and Sterility, over half of the women who froze their eggs said it made them feel more empowered, rather than anxious. Many women walk away feeling freer, lighter, and rejuvenated. They head back into the world with a new perspective and positive attitude.
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