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Many women today are waiting longer to have babies. Some want to focus on their careers or travel first. Others postpone motherhood because they haven’t found the right partner yet. But when it comes childbearing, time is of the essence.
A woman is born with all of the eggs she’ll ever have, and she loses one with each period. Over time, the quality of the remaining eggs declines. Infertility issues also increase with age, making pregnancy more difficult after age 35.
Some women who want kids — but not just yet — are freezing their eggs for future use.
Oocyte cryopreservation, or egg freezing, can help preserve reproductive potential in women. While women have been freezing their embryos since the 1950s, the practice of freezing unfertilized eggs didn’t begin until 30 years later. Young women with cancer were given a chance to freeze their eggs before losing their fertility to treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Now egg freezing is going mainstream. In 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) declared that egg freezing was no longer considered an “experimental” procedure. Also, some companies, like Google, Facebook and Apple, announced they would help pay for employees’ elective egg freezing procedures.
What do you need to know about putting your eggs on ice?
If you're thinking about freezing your eggs, don't wait. The younger you are when you freeze your eggs, the healthier the eggs, and the better your odds of getting pregnant later. The ASRM says elective egg freezing is most successful for women younger than 38.
While freezing your eggs can bring you peace of mind, there also comes the risk of false hope. A successful pregnancy is not guaranteed, so factor this into your decision making. Some experts still endorse egg freezing only for women who are delaying pregnancy for medical indications, and warn against using egg freezing to electively delay motherhood, citing lack of data.
If you are considering freezing your eggs, be sure to talk to your doctor about whether it is right for you based on your personal and reproductive history.
Learn more about pregnancy and baby services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
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