For many women who want to have children, “when” to start a family may depend on finding the right partner, becoming more professionally established, or dealing with an illness or medical challenge. If any of these issues resonate with you, know that you do have control of your reproductive future.
Eliminate Anxiety About Future Fertility
Freezing your eggs–also known as cryopreservation–allows you the freedom to pursue pregnancy when the time is right. Anyone with ovaries who has the ability to become pregnant is a good candidate for egg freezing. And regardless of your reasons for freezing your eggs, preserving them cryogenically while you are younger helps improve your chance for conceiving later on.
Women, and those female at birth, are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, which is roughly one million eggs. At puberty, that store of eggs diminishes to around 300,000, and that number continues to decrease with age and each period.
Egg quality also diminishes with age. And while your eggs are in their “prime” before age 35, you may not be in a place where babies are in your immediate future. By freezing your eggs, you have both control over when you want to have children and ensuring the best chance for a successful pregnancy when the time is right.
The Egg Freezing Process
You’ll want to first discuss the egg freezing procedure and process with your fertility doctor, and undergo an evaluation of your medical history and genetic background. At the same time, your doctor may perform blood tests to assess your hormone levels, along with an ultrasound to assess your ovarian reserve.
These results will determine the best approach for stimulating your ovaries so the maximum number of eggs can be safely harvested. Your doctor will estimate the number of eggs for retrieval and, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, prescribe specific hormonal medication. You’ll be carefully monitored with blood tests and ultrasounds throughout this process.
After about a week, your ovaries will enlarge. You’ll be advised to avoid any strenuous physical activity or workouts that could potentially cause your swollen ovaries to twist or turn and result in a painful condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
Retrieving the Eggs
Once your follicles are ready for ovulation, your doctor schedules the egg retrieval, an outpatient procedure that typically takes place in the clinic. You’ll be administered a sedative and a vaginal ultrasound probe will collect the eggs, with the most mature and healthy eggs selected for freezing.
Final Step: Freezing the Eggs
Within a few hours of harvesting, the eggs are frozen using a liquid nitrogen flash freezing method that prevents ice crystals from forming on the eggs and improves their survival rate. You’ll be sent home to rest and recover. You might experience mild cramping, bloating and maybe some vaginal spotting and constipation. Let your doctor know if these symptoms or any bleeding or pain persists after 24 hours.
When to Consider Egg Freezing
While there is no perfect age to freeze your eggs, the younger the better, and your odds for future conception are much better if you freeze “under 35” eggs. But as long as you are able to get pregnant, you are able to freeze your eggs.
For those who have any of the health conditions below, egg freezing provides a wonderful option to preserve your future fertility.
- Cancer Treatments: Chemotherapy, radiation and other strong medicines may cause harm to your ovaries and ovarian reserve, leading to an increased risk of infertility.
- History of Premature Menopause or Early Menopause: The clock ticks much louder for those with a family history of premature or early menopause (before age 40).
- PCOS Diagnosis: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects the ovaries and is the number one cause of female fertility issues.
Other circumstances in which egg freezing should be considered include:
- Delayed Parenthood: As previously mentioned, there are many reasons women may want to delay starting families and preserve their future fertility by freezing their young and viable eggs.
- Gender Transition: Prior to starting hormone therapy or surgeries, you may decide to preserve your reproductive options by freezing your eggs.
- Military Service: A lot can happen in combat, and egg freezing can provide some fertility insurance in case of injury.
Talk to Us About Egg Freezing
If you want more control over your reproductive future and are interested in egg freezing, contact Reproductive Health and Wellness today. We’re here to answer all of your fertility questions.
Founder and Doctor at RHWC