Isabel Medina had never thought about freezing eggs, but she was listening to a podcast on personal finance when the host brought up the procedure. They called it insurance for their future selves. Medina was intrigued.
Medina is 25 years old, has a successful career, and is about to complete her master’s degree in Computational Data Science. But she doesn’t know if or when in her life she wants to have children.
“It was the first time I thought I might have time to consider all the possibilities,” she says. She’s not the only one her age is thinking about this.
Ella Cowter, a 29-year-old Pilates instructor in Sydney, was told by her mother to consider the procedure. She joined her Facebook group on Egg Freezing to find out more about her. The exact same thing happened to Maria Ramirez, her 27-year-old graduate student in New Haven, a friend of a friend of mine.
Fertility clinics have a clear business case, like retirement savings or car insurance, to try to convince as many people as possible that any sensible woman needs egg freezing. Some people target women in their 20s, blog post and social media posts When it comes to egg freezing, I argue that the sooner the better.tick tock influencerwho was 25 at the time, also shared her “egg freezing journey.”
Most experts agree that those seeking egg freezing should ideally do so by age 35. that too If you freeze early, the benefits of doing it in your 20s probably won’t outweigh the additional cost and uncertainty. Biologically, freezing before the age of 30 may increase the chances of frozen eggs turning into embryos and then children. However, this improvement is small and probably not enough to justify paying additional annual egg storage fees. Moreover, it is very likely that no eggs will be used at all.
There are two main reasons why female fertility declines with age. Dr. Sarah Cascante, Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, NYU Langone Infertility Center. The first is that the number of eggs begins to decrease the moment a woman gives birth. Every year their number is decreasing.
The second reason is egg quality. Young females are more likely to lay eggs that form healthy embryos with no birth defects. “So the older you get, the more likely you are to develop chromosomal problems that likely lead to a miscarriage or not have a baby at all,” says Cascante. This means that there is a good chance that you will be able to maintain your health and have successful pregnancies in the future.
Although there is consensus about the fact that female fertility declines with age, the rate of decline is not constant. “We’re very concerned about aging, but at 33, she’s pretty stable towards 34,” he said. Dr. Abi Tsahrir, a fertility specialist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Until then, your chances of getting pregnant from one year to the next are fairly even.
“It doesn’t matter if you freeze the eggs at 25 or 32, because you’ll probably get the same number and the same quality,” he says. Dr. Alex Poliakovan infertility specialist at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
The egg freezing procedure begins with a woman (or person with a uterus) receiving hormone injections that stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. Once you’re done, your doctor will induce ovulation and pick up the egg from your vagina a few days later.
When the patient is ready to have a baby, the doctor thaws the egg, fertilizes it, and places the embryo back into the patient’s womb. “I don’t expect all to survive,” he says Tsafrir. Eggs are discarded at every stage of the process. Therefore, egg freezing is never guaranteed, and the number of eggs a patient freezes becomes important.
the study Published earlier this year Using data extrapolated from 520 cycles of artificial insemination performed at a Boston fertility clinic, we estimated the number of eggs a person would need to give birth to a live baby, depending on the patient’s age. . Based on the success rate of the eggs in the sample, a person who had frozen 20 eggs at age 34 had a 92% chance of giving birth to a live baby if in vitro fertilization was performed, and the same amount at age 30. predicted that those who frozen had a 98% chance of giving birth to live babies. Percentage potential — only minor improvements. A 2015 paper entitled “”Optimal timing for selective egg freezingused data from several sources, including the Long-Term Pregnancy Study, the National Survey of Family Growth, and the National Summary of Assisted Reproduction, to examine the question of when eggs are ideally frozen. It has been found that freezing eggs before the age of 32 generally does not improve fertility.
Because egg freezing is usually performed by older women, it is worth noting that much of the information about young women and egg freezing comes from best-guess models rather than from actual patient data. Most doctors believe that egg freezing is usually not necessary before a woman is in her early 30s, but more data would give us more confidence.
In addition to the unclear benefits, freezing eggs in your twenties has some obvious drawbacks. The first is cost. Egg freezing charges not only for egg retrieval, but also for the time the eggs are stored. The longer you keep your eggs frozen, the more you will have to pay. At NYU Langone, for example, each period of storage costs him $1,000.
Then there is the fact that the majority of women who have had their eggs frozen do not return to retrieve them. Between 9 and 30 percentYounger women may be even less likely to retrieve eggs, Poliakov said.
a small study A study published in 2021 found that women typically don’t use frozen eggs for two reasons: they either didn’t find a suitable partner (and didn’t want to raise a child without one) or conceived naturally. . you might be felt, at 28 and seemingly forever single, still has plenty of time to find a partner before her fertility starts to wane. Even women who are not heterosexual or who plan to have children via IVF to screen for certain diseases cannot see if they can wait to have their eggs retrieved until they are ready to have a family. , makes the most sense. Egg storage is more expensive, embryo testing is more efficient, and plans are subject to constant change.
Cascante recommends that women have a good idea of what their 30s and 40s will look like before freezing their eggs. For those looking to postpone childbirth for 15 years to train, egg freezing may make sense. But those who postpone childbirth for less obvious reasons calculate differently. “Somebody said, ‘I’m 27 and I want to have kids as soon as I meet someone,’ and I’m like, ‘I’ll wait until I’m 32 or 33, and then we’ll see where you are.’ You might say, ”says Cascante. Early freezing of eggs may also make sense for women undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy, and for transgender men who plan to undergo gender reassignment surgery or take gender-affirming hormones.
If you’re around the age of 30 and are considering egg freezing, doctors recommend getting an ovarian reserve test. This is a blood test that measures hormones to estimate the number of eggs that may be obtained during egg retrieval. This test can indicate whether there is reason to rush. “If you come in with a low level of 30, and wait until you’re 35, you’ll probably have a very low level. And at that point, you may not get as many eggs from egg freezing. Freezing your eggs is no guarantee that you’ll have a baby, or that you’ll think you’ve spent your money well. But it’s better to do it with the data you have at hand instead of just retrieving it. fear.