The option to freeze your eggs is empowering to say the least. It is a revolutionary advancement in modern medicine and gives women more power in their choice to reproduce, with whom and when. Some women see this advancement as a way to expand their childbearing years, but it is more often advised for women with conditions that could lead to infertility (cancer, endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome). The best time to freeze your eggs is in your 20s and 30s, because the younger the egg is (even after being frozen), the higher chance of conception! There are some things to consider that may impact your choice to freeze.
The process is intensive. First, you'll go through a number of screenings with your doctor, looking at your medical history, doing blood tests, physical exams, and tests to see the number of eggs available for extraction. Then, you'll inject yourself with hormones every day for two weeks. These hormones give your ovaries a swift kick in the rear, making them produce many eggs at a time. Then, you'll have regular visits to the doctor for ultrasounds and more blood work. Then, the doctors will go in to extract the eggs one at a time. This involves you being sedated while the doctor passes a needle through the vaginal walls to the ovaries. Lastly, the eggs are frozen to sub-zero temperatures. Think of them living in little igloos.
It is an expensive process. Most doctors recommend freezing about 20 eggs. To retrieve these 20 eggs, you may have to go through the process a few times, as doctors can retrieve anywhere from zero to 30 eggs during one extraction. The drugs and hormone shots can range from $3,500 to $5,000. The egg-retrieval process at most clinics will cost around $10,000. To store your frozen eggs annually would cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. Then, once you decide you are ready to use the egg, the in vitro fertilization process would begin, bringing a whole other slew of expenses. Most insurance companies do not cover elective egg freezing. Read more about the costs of IVF here!
Clinics are not required to reveal data about freezing success rates. According to an article on Nature, no such requirement exists for clinics to reveal statistics about how many women have frozen their eggs before, how many have come back to use the eggs, or how successful they have been in that endeavor. Lots of data exists on IVF cycles, and all results of those cycles have to be reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That same information availability is not required for the egg-freezing process.
The chance that a single egg will result in a baby is about two to 12 percent. Even when a younger woman elects to freeze her eggs, the chance that they will result in a live birth is relatively low. As a woman ages and the quality of her eggs goes down, the percentage decreases, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Ultimately, doctors do not recommend it for otherwise healthy women. Egg freezing has worked and will continue to work for many women! According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there is no published data "on the efficacy of elective oocyte cryopreservation in this population." With proper counseling, egg freezing is recommended for women facing possible infertility issues. But without sufficient data, it cannot be fully recommended to women solely looking to delay or circumvent the biological clock.