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Egg Freezing: Is It for Me?

Planning for the Future

By puberty, women have an average of 300,000 to 400,000 eggs remaining in their ovaries, and that number continues to decrease with age. That’s one reason it can be more difficult to become pregnant after the age of 35. Many women want to become parents but worry about the effect of their age on their chances of conceiving. Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) is one method becoming more commonly used to increase women’s chances of having a baby as they age.

What Is Egg Freezing?

Egg freezing is a process where eggs are removed from the ovaries and frozen for future use. The process starts by a person takes fertility medications for about two weeks. Eggs are then retrieved and frozen.

Am I a Candidate for Egg Freezing?

Egg freezing is something to consider if:

  • You’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer.
  • You’ve recently been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure.
  • You haven’t found the right partner to begin a family.
  • Starting your family is something you’d prefer to pursue later in life.

"Egg freezing technology has significantly advanced, and now offers women the gift of choice, flexibility and control over their reproductive future," says Tarun Jain, MD, a physician who specializes in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Northwestern Medicine.

Things to Consider

  • You will undergo medical testing before treatment to assess your ovarian reserve.
  • How many eggs would you like to freeze is based on chance of pregnancy success and how many children you want to have. Experts suggest 20 to 30 eggs be frozen for the chance of one baby, but be aware that not every egg is guaranteed to thaw successfully or become a baby. You and your physician are a team and will work together to create a care plan that works for you.
  • When do you want to get pregnant? The best time to preserve eggs is around age 34 to 37. Egg quality continues to deteriorate after age 38.

What Can I Expect?

Egg freezing continues to evolve, yet it remains a low-risk procedure and takes roughly two weeks to complete. After consulting with your physician, you’ll take hormone medications that encourage your eggs to grow. The eggs are later retrieved in a quick office procedure and are immediately frozen. When you are ready to use your eggs, they will be carefully thawed and fertilized in an attempt to create embryos. If fertilization is successful, one or more embryos will be transferred back into the woman’s body.

Egg freezing is not right for everyone and is not the only fertility option available. Learn about other treatment options available for fertility preservation or contact your physician or a fertility specialist.