You were born with a finite number of eggs. Way back in the womb — long before you needed them — your ovaries held about 6-7 million eggs, also known as oocytes. During adolescence, you had about 300,000-500,000.
By the time you’re 37, you only have approximately 25,000 oocytes. And that sinks to 1,000 at age 51, when you’re most likely to hit menopause.
You’ve heard about egg freezing, and you wonder if it’s for you. The expert OB/GYNs and infertility specialists at Columbia Fertility Associates offer egg freezing for women who want to delay pregnancy for lifestyle or medical reasons.
Is egg freezing right for you? The following questions and answers can help you decide.
Are you still fertile, but too busy for an (another) baby?
One of the most common reasons for egg freezing is to give yourself the option of delaying childbirth while maximizing your chances of one day having the child you desire. You may not yet have had a child, or you may have a child or children and think you might want more one day. Just not now.
As you age, not only do you lose eggs, the eggs that remain become less viable as they age, too. Freezing your eggs now increases your chance of pregnancy later in life. The sooner you freeze your eggs, the more likely it is that those eggs can be fertilized and develop into an embryo.
Are you undergoing IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) in which a doctor removes your eggs from your ovaries in a simple procedure and then fertilizes them in a lab with your partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm. Your fertility expert may recommend IVF when other types of ART have failed.
Each cycle of IVF requires multiple eggs to increase the chances of producing a viable embryo that your doctor then implants into your uterus. You may need more than one cycle of IVF before you conceive a child.
Freezing the eggs from the first retrieval allows you to go through multiple IVF cycles, if needed, without taking more fertility drugs or undergoing egg retrieval. You may also freeze extra eggs if you hope to have another child one day. Just let us know, and we arrange for excess eggs to be frozen and kept for you to use when you’re ready.
Do you want your partner to carry your child?
If you’re in a same-sex relationship and are considering a type of IVF known as reciprocal IVF, one partner donates her eggs, while the other partner carries the developing embryo in her uterus. Freezing your eggs allows you to expand your family in the future without going through another egg-retrieval process.
As part of the IVF process, the donor must take fertility drugs that make their ovaries produce more than one egg per cycle. They then must undergo an egg-retrieval process, where the doctor vacuums out the ripened eggs and transfers them to a petri dish for fertilization with donor sperm.
If you or your partner produced more eggs than needed, we can freeze the others for you. That way, when you want to add to your family, they’re waiting for you.
Do you have cancer or another illness?
Radiation treatments and the chemicals in chemotherapy may impair your fertility, particularly if your cancer is in the pelvic area. If you must undergo a hysterectomy or other surgery that removes some or all of your reproductive organs, you could become infertile.
Talk to your oncologist or surgeon about the possibility of freezing your eggs before your treatment. If certain types of cancer run in your family and you’re not quite ready to have children, you might also consider freezing your eggs now, while you’re healthy.
If you’re considering egg freezing, reach out to contact our team at Columbia Fertility Associates today. Make an appointment at our nearest office in Washington, DC; Bethesda, Maryland; or Arlington, Virginia.