Science has made groundbreaking steps in assisted fertility in the last 40 years but the challenge of preserving fertility continues to dominate fertility science in the 21st century. As general trends show women, especially in western societies, are delaying having families until later in life, the need and desire to preserve fertility has never been greater.
With the recent advancements in the freeze-thaw process there is no doubt that egg freezing today presents a viable option for women wishing to preserve fertility for social reasons. Egg freezing is still perceived as ‘new’ but over 5000 babies have been born from frozen eggs and in 2012 the American Society of Reproductive Medicine declared that egg freezing should be considered no longer experimental.
Infact in 2014 both Apple and Facebook began offering egg freezing benefits to female employees in a bid to help women balance work and career. In effect giving young women the option to pursue career ambitions first and family later.
However, there is a concern that there is an oversimplification of egg freezing, especially the success rates and benefits from the press and media. Whilst egg freezing success rates are improving, there is no doubt that the benefits are limited and cannot overturn the impact of age on fertility and the process of freezing cannot change genetic quality of the eggs at the age that they are frozen. Simply put, the main key to egg freezing success relies on the egg age at time of freezing; the younger the egg the better the success rate. Only when eggs are frozen before the age of 35 years can success rates of 40-50% be achieved and success rates are limited with eggs over 40 years.
Of course the best way to conceive a baby is naturally and for those who are considering starting a family within the proceeding 12 months most probably don’t need egg freezing.
In summary, egg freezing is a decision best made early in life when having a baby isn’t on the agenda and the future circumstances of conceiving are unknown. Some people refer to it as an ‘insurance policy’, something that you might not need to use in the future but it’s there if you do. For those who want to freeze their eggs slightly later life after not having found the right circumstances to conceive will experience very little benefit.
If you are considering egg freezing or have any questions relating to the programme please contact us.