Moms have been changing the rules of motherhood. We’ve all come to realize that biology is a little messed up. Sorry to whoever designed the human body but, there are a few equations that are a just a little off—like the one that claims our eggs start to die and diminish in quality before we’ve even had a shot at our careers. The fact that the best time to have babies also happens to be the worst years for our bank accounts just doesn’t make sense. Let’s not even get into the fact that most of us don’t even know who we are, and are not nearly mature enough to be parents yet during our most fertile years. The math there is just a bit…off. Luckily, many women don’t need to choose between having babies and having a career/life because we can do things like freeze our eggs, and just procreate when we’re ready. Right…? Maybe. Should you freeze your eggs? Here’s what you should know.
It’s a great option if you’re just not ready
Egg freezing is a wonderful option for women who know they want kids one day, but also know that that day may be far past the years that their bodies can produce healthy eggs. Women who are still building their careers, for example, and don’t have the time or money to dedicate to a child now might freeze their eggs.
Or don’t have a partner
Another top reason women freeze their eggs is that they just don’t have a partner with whom they’d like to raise children yet. If you’re content with your personal achievements, and feel financially ready for a child, but just don’t want to be a single parent, egg freezing can be a great option until you’ve found a partner.
Cancer patients should consider it
One of the most common reasons for egg freezing is medical—women who haven’t had children, do have cancer and will go undergo treatment may opt to have their eggs frozen. Since cancer treatment can greatly affect one’s fertility later, egg freezing is one solution to ensuring the woman has viable eggs once she is healthy again.
But they should ask a lot of questions
Any woman who will undergo cancer treatment and wants to have her eggs frozen should have extensive conversations with her doctor. In some cases, the medication used to stimulate egg growth can also encourage cancer growth. It’s very important that patients get the facts.
There will be ovarian stimulation
Speaking of egg stimulation, that will be the first step in the egg freezing process. A woman will be given medication to boost her egg production. This process will take about two weeks. Because the medication affects hormones, it can have some side effects one may expect from hormonal imbalances.
The collection can be uncomfortable
Egg collection can be a bit uncomfortable, but you will be sedated. And it’s perfectly alright to ask for more pain medication if you are still uncomfortable. Your doctor will guide a needle via an ultrasound through your vagina to collect the eggs.
But the chance at a family carries you through
Many women report that, while the process is uncomfortable, they take solace in the fact that they’re giving themselves a chance at a family by doing it.
Not all women produce the same amount of eggs
Not all women produce the same amount of eggs. Your doctor will give you the ovary stimulation medication, but he cannot guarantee that it will result in a specific number (or range) of eggs.
But this is the average number
There is an average number of eggs that each stimulation treatment produces, and that is 10. So, conceivably, if a woman were willing to undergo several rounds of treatment, she could collect…as many eggs as she’d like. It just gets expensive. But the more eggs you collect, the higher likelihood you have at conception later.
No, your eggs won’t get mixed up
Many women worry that their eggs will somehow get misplaced, confused with another woman’s, and mislabeled. Professionals in the field assure those women that the eggs undergo highly monitored processes in the collection, labeling, and freezing.
Here’s the success rate
Women should know that egg freezing only produces a 14 percent success rate when it comes to pregnancy later. That is why it’s not necessarily the top choice for women hoping to have a child the unconventional way. Adoption and surrogates, for example, are more popular. But for women who insist on using their own eggs, it’s an option.
Fresh eggs are better
Fresh eggs have a success rate that is twice as high as frozen eggs. So, again, freezing one’s eggs is really just an option for women who won’t have the healthiest fresh eggs by the time they’re ready to conceive.
Embryo vs egg freezing
There are two things you can freeze, actually: an embryo, which is a pre-fertilized egg, or the outer layer of ovarian tissue, which is removed, frozen, and later re-implanted in the woman.
Age still matters
Even if you have your eggs frozen when they’re young and healthy, the longer you wait to use them, the less of a chance you have at a successful pregnancy.
The costs associated with egg freezing are rather high. You’ll pay roughly $10,000 for stimulation and collection, and storage is $500 a year.