If you want to put off having a family and are considering freezing your eggs, you aren't alone. I have treated hundreds of women who know they want to be a mother someday -- when the time is right.
The opportunity to shatter the biological clock wasn't a possibility for women years ago, but today, women can rest easy knowing that they have never been more empowered to take charge of their family future.
Freezing eggs isn't a hush-hush topic; Hollywood has made this a part of regular conversation too. Zooey Deschanel feared for her ticking biological clock in an episode of New Girl, while Maria Menounos, Sofia Vergara and Jennifer Aniston have all put their fertility on ice.
If you're thinking about freezing your eggs, consider this information before moving forward.
1. You're already ahead of the game.
If you are thinking about fertility preservation and whether it is right for you, you are already way ahead of the game. Knowledge is power, and understanding your body and fertility potential is critical in making educated choices for your future.
2. You will walk away with more than just frozen eggs.
Doing an egg retrieval is an involved process that provides a wealth of personal medical information. Testing and evaluation of the female reproductive system is required. During the egg retrieval, physicians have an opportunity to see your reproductive potential in action. Patients can understand their own eggs at a depth they wouldn't be able to otherwise.
3. This will require some work.
The process of freezing your eggs will require some work on your part. The first month is spent checking blood tests and completing ultrasounds to see if you are a good candidate to freeze your eggs. During the second month, you will spend two weeks taking medicine prior to your egg retrieval procedure. While you are on medicine, the growth of the eggs is monitored with ultrasound and blood tests to see when they will be ready. Around the time you would normally ovulate, you will have your egg harvest procedure. During the egg retrieval, you will be placed under light sedation and may feel a bit of cramping and bloating afterwards. The goal is to freeze somewhere around 15 eggs to optimize the chance of success later.
4. You're going to need to get over your fear of needles.
In order to stimulate your ovaries, medication in the form of daily injections is required. Luckily, the needle is small and causes a tiny prick on the skin. The needle is similar to the needle children use for insulin. A nurse will help guide you through this process to make you comfortable. If a family member or close friend is willing to administer the shots, you can employ their help as well.
5. There's no guarantee.
It's important to know that freezing eggs does not guarantee a baby, but it offers a reliable insurance plan. Similar to your chances of getting pregnant when trying for 1-2 months, this provides a swing at the bat. When you are ready to use your frozen eggs to have a family, they must complete several steps prior to pregnancy. Eggs must survive the thaw, fertilize, implant and hopefully result in a baby. Along the way, any of these steps may not happen. Until eggs are used for treatment, physicians cannot know the outcome.
6. It's not cheap.
The cost of medication and treatment for one cycle is roughly $10,000-12,000 and storing eggs will cost $800 per year. But freezing your eggs may save thousands of dollars in fertility treatment down the road, and it offers immediate peace of mind.
7. We can investigate before getting started.
The Anti-Mullerian Hormone test is a convenient and inexpensive blood test that can aid in assessing ovarian potential. It will tell us how many eggs you may have left -- a low, average or high number. Through the test, it can be determined who may lose their fertility more quickly, as well as provide valuable insight around ovarian reserve.
8. You will feel lighter and think more clearly.
That 800 lb. gorilla that has been sitting on your shoulders? She's gone. That ticking biological clock? You've broken it. We have seen many women walk away feeling freer, lighter and rejuvenated. They head back into the dating world empowered with a new perspective and positive attitude. And believe it or not, sometimes Mr. Right arrives soon thereafter.
9. At 24, it may be best to put cash towards college loans.
While the best time to freeze eggs is during your late 20s or early 30s, it is important to weigh timing with life and financial circumstances. If you are beginning your career, strapped for time and in your early to mid-20s, you may need more time to make your decision. The ideal time to freeze eggs is in your early 30s. Of course if you're in your 20s and certain that you want to delay pregnancy, younger eggs have more success in treatment. Fertility begins to steadily decline at 35 years of age, so if you are in a higher age bracket, you may want to consider your decision differently.
10. If it's a possibility, freeze embryos instead.
If you already have a partner but aren't ready for children, freezing embryos rather than eggs will boost your odds of success in the future. Eggs are delicate, and not all will survive the thawing process. By mixing your partner's sperm with your eggs, then freezing the resulting embryos, you have eliminated one stage of the process.