Egg freezing is a boon for women, giving them the option to preserve their fertility until they are truly ready to have a child. The label “experimental” was recently lifted by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) from the title of the procedure; however, it is still debatable how women will and should incorporate the option into their reproductive lifespan.
The following are some of the ways egg freezing can make a positive impact and present a great option for childbearing:
- For women facing cancer treatments or surgery to remove damaged or abnormal ovaries, egg freezing is an amazing gift to save their reproductive potential.
- For women who need egg donors to conceive, this procedure may lead to the creation of more egg banks, which will be similar to sperm banks in terms of helping to make using egg donors a less costly and more widely accessible fertility treatment. (Egg banks exist now, but they’re not as abundant, affordable, or widespread as sperm banks.)
- For women not able to conceive in the traditional sense or not ready to conceive at a young age, egg freezing can be an amazing insurance policy. It allows women to proceed with their educational and career goals without anxiety about their future ability to bear children.
- Having eggs in the freezer can certainly take the pressure off dating, particularly when a woman is in her 30s, and her biological clock begins loudly ticking. It allows women to enjoy dates without hurrying to find mates.
- The new technology – flash freezing eggs in a technique called “vitrification” – boasts IVF success rates that are almost identical to using fresh eggs.
In an articulate and insightful Wall Street Journal article by Sarah Elizabeth Richards, Why I Froze My Eggs (and You Should, Too), the author makes a compelling argument for delaying childbirth until she is fully ready, and also reveals how empowering it can be to “truly own your desire to be a mom,” by investing time, money, and physical preparation in harvesting and freezing her eggs. With the pressure off of her “ticking biological clock,” Richards was able to do it all at her own pace. Today, at 42 years old, she is in love with a man who shares her desire for a family, and she is currently trying to get pregnant naturally. And if that doesn’t work by the time she is 44 years old, she is prepared to conceive via IVF with the eggs she froze when she was 36 years old.
While I believe in the benefits of egg freezing, as a fertility expert and doctor, I have some concerns that a generation of women will be sold a bill of goods and perhaps will be disappointed in their 40s when their carefully laid plans don’t necessarily pan out as hoped. The technology is still new, and the implications – both scientific and ethical – have yet to be fully explored.
In my next post, I’ll explore the cons and pitfalls of fertility preservation.