When it comes to egg freezing, age matters

There has been considerable attention in the media to the use of egg freezing as a means for women to prolong their fertility. Indeed, it would appear that more women are electing to freeze their eggs in order to pursue their careers, gain financial stability, and to find an appropriate partner before becoming a parent.

However, leading doctors in the United Kingdom are warning that egg freezing shouldn’t be used as an “insurance policy” because it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a successful pregnancy in the future. Given that social egg freezing is a fairly new procedure, the numbers of cycles that have been undertaken following egg freezing are fairly low, making it difficult to get an accurate sense of how successful the process is. In the UK, between 1991 and 2012, approximately 20 babies were born after 160 IVF cycles using frozen eggs – a 12.5% success rate.

The age of the eggs rather than the age of the mother seems to be critical in determining pregnancy potential with previously frozen eggs. Dimitrios Nikolaou, a consultant in reproductive medicine in Chelsea and Westminister’s Assisted Conception Unit in the UK suggests it’s preferable that women freeze their eggs before age 35, ideally before 30, in order to increase the likelihood of a pregnancy in the future.

Despite the low success rates, significant cost, and health risks associated with the procedure, an increasing number of women are opting to freeze their eggs. Clearly for some women, eggs freezing gives them a sense of relief and reduces the pressure to have children until they are ready. Dr. Wael Saab at the Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health in London, says that egg freezing gives women freedom and “a future.” Dr. Saab believes that egg freezing “will change how people think about fertility.”

Read more about egg freezing here, here, here, and here. 

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