Having a child is a highly personal decision. Planning when you have that child is equally personal. You and your partner, or you on your own, know timing is everything. As life and its demands intervene, you hit the pause button on starting a family. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate and as your biological clock counts down conception becomes more difficult.
You are born with all of the eggs you’ll ever have. The closer you get to menopause the less viable your eggs become and the fewer numbers of eggs you have in reserve. That’s why your 20s and 30s are the optimum time for conception. Advanced maternal age occurs after 35 and conception gets more difficult with each passing year. As you age your egg quality also declines putting you at higher risk for a miscarriage.
For those women who delay pregnancy in pursuit of education, career goals or finding the ideal partner, egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation, in medical terms) offers a solution. This potentially life-changing procedure allows you to preserve your healthy, viable eggs until the time is right for you to have your baby. What’s the process involved in freezing your eggs? And what should you know about the process?
What is Egg Freezing?
First, let’s take a look at just what oocyte cryopreservation is and how the process works. This option for preserving your fertility involves removing eggs from your ovaries and preserving them cryogenically until you’re ready to pursue pregnancy. Egg freezing is safe and has no bearing on the health of your future baby.
When you and your partner decide the time is right, eggs are fertilized via in-vitro fertilization and implanted into your uterus. By using your own healthy eggs and your partner’s sperm or donor sperm, your odds of a successful pregnancy extend beyond your 20s, and you decide when the time is right for a baby.
Every pregnancy and the circumstances surrounding that pregnancy are unique. We understand you and your partner have specific ideas surrounding your ultimate goal for a healthy pregnancy. Here is a general account of the process involved in freezing your eggs.
- The doctor will perform a series of fertility and blood tests, along with a transvaginal ultrasound to evaluate your fertility and assess your ovarian reserve.
- Your doctor schedules a consultation, going over the results before you make your decision.
- Once you go ahead with your decision your doctor begins monitoring your follicle growth with blood tests and ultrasounds. This allows for timing the egg retrieval.
- For 7-10 days, you will self-administer hormonal injections into the fatty tissue of your stomach up to three times per day. The medication optimizes the number of eggs your doctor retrieves.
- While you are under sedation your doctor retrieves the eggs using an ultrasound-guided needle which goes through your vaginal wall and into your ovaries, harvesting the eggs.
- The eggs are frozen within hours and stored in cryo tanks.
Who Benefits from Egg Freezing?
The opportunity to freeze eggs for future use is a miracle for many women undergoing treatment for cancer and other diseases. Intense radiation, chemotherapy and certain medications compromise or devastate fertility, and cryopreservation places the future of their fertility in their hands.
Women who aren’t ready to start a family also benefit from cryopreservation. As mentioned above such life goals as gaining a footing in your career, advancing your education or simply waiting until the time is right are a few of the reasons women consider freezing their eggs.
Finally infertile women with a religious or moral concern regarding freezing embryos benefit from storing their eggs for future fertilization.
When is the Best Time for Freezing my Eggs?
Understandably, most women in their 20s aren’t thinking in terms of future babies. However, this is the time in your life when your eggs are at their peak. In most cases your eggs are strong, healthy and highly viable. In your 30s you still have high-quality eggs, however the closer you get to your 40s, the quality of your eggs diminishes.
Of course, your hormones tell the story of your fertility and your ovarian reserve. Your doctor will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for oocyte cryopreservation through a fertility hormone test and possibly additional tests.
Deciding in favor of cryopreservation is highly personal. Should you determine this is your ideal path to pregnancy, please contact LA IVF for a consultation. We have all of the resources and information you need, whether you’re interested in freezing your eggs, want to know more about IVF or any of our treatments for infertility.