By Germie founder, Nicole DeBusk.
The pros and cons of freezing your eggs now.
The first successful births from frozen eggs occurred in the late 1980s, so why has egg freezing only gotten popular in the last decade? Well, part of the answer comes from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine who finally gave egg freezing the green light in 2012 when they decided to no longer label the procedure as "experimental."
In the last ten years there has been huge headway made in the reproductive realm with some employers now covering the cost for their employees to freeze their eggs, and women are choosing life partners later than they have in previous decades.
So now that egg freezing is more accessible, what is it, and is it right for you?
Explain what it is first, please?
Egg freezing is where mature eggs are grown in the ovaries and then removed from the woman’s body to be frozen in a storage facility until the woman is ready to use those eggs. To use the eggs, they will be thawed, combined with sperm to create an embryo, and then implanted in her uterus (womb) in hopes that the embryo will start to form a baby.
While egg freezing is an amazing advancement in modern technology, it also isn’t so easy.
So, here is our list of pros and cons for you to consider before making the decision on if you want to freeze your eggs, written by someone who has been through the process herself.
First, the pros.
What are the advantages of freezing my eggs now?
1. To put it simply, freezing your eggs now can help your chances of having children in the future if you don’t want them now.
If you choose to freeze your eggs, you are giving yourself more options later in life when you decide you are ready to have children. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women have trouble getting pregnant (conceiving). By freezing your eggs earlier in life, you will have a greater opportunity to have a child in the future.
2. Your frozen eggs will be younger for when you are ready to have a baby.
We are born with around 1 million eggs, and we do not create any more. As you get older you continue to ‘shed’ eggs with each period (menstrual cycle), and the quality of your eggs will deteriorate. Therefore, the older you get, the less chance you have to get pregnant.
3. Egg freezing gives you a higher chance of getting pregnant later in life.
The older you get, especially after your mid 30s, the harder it is for the egg to be fertilized by sperm. This has to occur to create an embryo. Therefore, using younger, better quality eggs at a later stage in life will increase your chance of fertilization.
4. With egg freezing (instead of embryo), you don’t have to choose a sperm right away.
While this may sound obvious, not all of us have met the person we want to have children with in our 20s or our early 30s, however that shouldn’t stop you from being able to have a baby when you’re ready. Unlike in previous decades, you are not obligated to pick sperm from a magazine of choices to freeze an embryo (fertilized egg) either. You can freeze eggs on their own while you wait for the right sperm. ;)
Now, the cons.
What are the disadvantages of freezing my eggs now?
1. Egg freezing is expensive and may require more than one cycle of freezing
Egg freezing is pricy, and you may not get enough eggs in your first cycle of freezing. While some employers are now covering the cost of egg freezing for their female employees, many still aren’t, and there is a chance that your insurance won’t cover any of the cost either. If you’re deciding if egg freezing is right for you, check what your employer and your insurance might cover first to better understand your full cost of the procedure. If you are someone who has a health issue that may affect your ability to get pregnant later on, check out organizations like Livestrong that may be able to help cover the cost of egg freezing.
Your eggs have to be mature to be frozen. Typically, each month your ovaries have a certain number of follicles, and your body chooses one of these follicles to grow into a mature egg and stops the other follicles from doing the same. When you freeze your eggs, the medication encourages all of the follicles available to grow into mature eggs. However, this does not mean that all of the follicles will still mature. Therefore, after the egg removal procedure, your doctor will tell you if they were able to get enough mature eggs to freeze without having to do another cycle. If this happens, you can still choose not to do a second cycle. This is only recommended to increase your chances of having a frozen egg turn into a healthy pregnancy later on.
2. There are risks involved in the process of freezing eggs.
When all of these follicles in your ovaries are growing, your ovaries will temporarily expand to hold all of these larger, maturing eggs. When your ovaries are bigger, you have a higher chance of them twisting on themselves, also called ovarian torsion. While this is a rare event, if this happens, then there is a chance that the twisted ovary will have to be surgically removed.
3. Egg freezing is not guaranteed to work.
It is so critical to understand that freezing your eggs does not always work. As mentioned earlier, there is a chance that they are not able to remove enough mature eggs from your body, which means there is a lower chance of a pregnancy from your frozen eggs. Therefore it is very important to consider that egg freezing does not guarantee a pregnancy, or baby.
4. Egg freezing involves giving your body extra hormone.
The medication used to create mature eggs in your ovaries involves extra hormones. These hormones may be synthetic follicle-stimulating hormone or luteinizing hormone. While it is rare, these hormones can cause something called ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS). This syndrome is temporary, but in very rare cases can cause severe problems requiring hospitalization, so make sure to review adverse effects with your fertility specialist, also called a reproductive endocrinologist, before beginning the process of egg freezing.
5. Egg freezing involves minor surgery that can have complications
The procedure involves a needle that will aspirate (withdraw, or suction) the mature eggs from your ovaries. While usually this is not something to worry about, in rare cases this can cause internal bleeding or damage to other organs.
There's a lot to consider.
While the list of reasons you shouldn’t freeze your eggs seems large, ultimately you should talk to a reproductive endocrinologist and see if egg freezing is right for you after thoughtful consideration. They may go through your medical history and take blood samples to test your fertility to be able to give you advise based on your own body. If you're feeling pressured from society to freeze your eggs because it's popular, and you feel the pressure of your biological clock, do yourself a favor and consider your age, your risks, your finances and your future wants in life.
I froze my eggs due to a medical issue, and I am really happy that they exist for when I’m ready. I know I want kids in life, but not yet. I am not at the point where I can afford a child, but I can afford the annual storage fees to continue to keep my eggs frozen. I also know that I will go into menopause a lot earlier than most women, but I don't want that knowledge to make me jump head first into motherhood. I was at a good age to freeze my eggs, and at that time, I didn't have a partner. I was able to get the medication for my treatment covered, however I still had to pay around $9,000 for the procedure. I probably should have done another cycle of egg freezing, but I didn't have any time to spare before starting treatment for my medical issues. I didn't have PCOS, but I did have a large, solid cyst in my ovary that my follicles had to grow around. All of these facts were taken into consideration, and your facts will be different than mine, so really think them over!
If you have any questions specifically around egg freezing, feel free to ask on the Germie chat, or reach out to us on Instagram.