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Social egg freezing – An option for women who aren’t yet ready to have children

“Social egg freezing” is a relatively new fertility procedure in which a woman elects to have her eggs frozen for non-medical (i.e., “social”) reasons, such as not meeting the “right” partner or delaying the process of having children while she pursues other life goals (e.g., travel, career, financial security). Many women know they want to have children but as they head into their mid-thirties are facing the reality that their fertility is declining. So freezing some of their eggs now when they are younger and likely more fertile, offers some hope and security that they may be able to have children in the future – when they are ready. For example, one Toronto-based woman said, “I don’t want to have to settle for a relationship that doesn’t feel right because of this looming fertility issue…I feel [social egg freezing] buys me a few more years.”

Up until approximately five years ago, most fertility clinics only offered egg freezing to women who were undergoing medical treatments that would impair their fertility (e.g., chemotherapy). However, many fertility clinics in countries around the world including Canada, are now offering egg freezing to women for social, rather than medical reasons. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that of 20 Canadian fertility clinics surveyed 45% offer social egg freezing. As acceptance of this process increases, this form of fertility preservation for social reasons will likely become even more widely available.

Social egg freezing involves a process similar to in-vitro fertilitzation (IVF), in terms of the hormonal medications required to stimulate the production of mature eggs, and the surgical retrieval of eggs from a woman’s ovaries. These eggs are then flash frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen until the woman is ready to pursue a pregnancy either with her partner’s sperm or with donor sperm. The procedure is no longer considered experimental and is relatively safe. However, the success of egg freezing depends on a woman’s age and ovarian reserve (i.e., number of remaining eggs in a woman’s ovaries) at the time of the procedure. Also, the procedure is expensive. The cost of egg freezing in North American ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 per cycle, with some women requiring more than one cycle to retrieve enough eggs for preservation.

Read an article about social egg freezing here:

Social egg freezing: A means to achieving life goals before becoming a mother, or a question of ethics? [National Post Online]

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