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When to Consider Egg Freezing

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Dozen Eggs

No matter what your specific circumstances are, when it comes to your reproductive life, timing is everything. There's only a small window of time each month to accomplish it. If you have PCOS or endometriosis, you have to invest time into getting some of your symptoms under control to maximize conception chances. With an IVF cycle, timing is so important that the injections are to be given at a specific hour and minute. In an ideal world, every parent-to-be would thoroughly evaluate whether it was the right time to have a child in the first place, and whether the next 18 plus years were the ones to dedicate to raising it.

Rare is the woman who doesn't at least have some understanding that time is working against her, but life doesn't always fall into place in accordance with our ideal timeline. Even if you always wanted children - maybe you don't meet someone worth having them with when you thought you would. Maybe a hard-earned career really starts to take off later than expected. Maybe an illness or any other sort of unexpected bump in the road puts your otherwise perfect timeline out of whack. So keeping in mind the unfortunate reality that when it comes to conception time is working against us, what can a person do when they know they want kids, but the timing in their life isn't right?

One option to consider is freezing your eggs. It's, of course, not necessarily a guarantee, but it does buy you time. Even if you know that your life, your body and/or your mind won't be ready to have a child until you're older, you can make it so that when it is time, you are dealing with younger, healthier eggs.

To get some answers to some basic questions about egg freezing, we spoke to Dr. Shahin Ghadir, a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Southern California Reproductive Center in Los Angeles.

Q: At what age, if a woman knows she wants to have children but isn't quite ready, should she consider egg freezing?
Dr. Ghadir: The sooner the better. However, at the age of 30 everyone should consider answering this question. If there is no sight of having a future relationship, marriage or child in the coming years, they should definitely evaluate. So, the sooner the better because egg quality is better the younger you are, but definitely at the age of 30.

Q: So if a woman is looking to buy some time, 30 is a good age to start considering her options in terms of egg freezing. Typically if a woman is not interested in having kids immediately, she's on some form of birth control. If she is using some form of birth control, in order to plan ahead for having her eggs removed, is there a period beforehand that she needs to stop? For example, would she need to factor in time to have an IUD removed?
Dr. Ghadir: First of all, for the IUD, if it’s a non-hormonal IUD, she does not have to have the IUD removed, explains Dr. Ghadir. If it’s a progesterone releasing IUD, then she should have the IUD removed about a month before and also stopping the birth control pill with a month of break minimum is the best idea, but you still do not have to, you can go right into the process.

Q: These are great things to consider for a woman who may just not be ready to have children right now. Are there any diagnosis or conditions that would definitively call for egg-freezing if a woman wanted a biological child?
Dr. Ghadir: If the woman is about to undergo any kind of treatment for cancer, meaning radiation or chemotherapy or any surgery that is going to remove her ovary for endometriosis, scar tissue or anything like that, Dr. Ghadir explains, the patient will have absolutely no chance of using her own eggs in the future if she does not preserve the eggs at that time."

Q: Keeping those conditions or diagnosis in mind, is there any age that's considered too young for egg freezing?
Dr. Ghadir: Even if the patient is after puberty at the age of 13 or 14, is about to undergo any kind of treatment for cancer or anything like that, there is really no age that is too young. Before the age that puberty has started, it’s virtually impossible to do this process in the normal fashion.

Whether you are a woman who has been diagnosed with a condition that puts your future fertility in question, or just a woman who is not quite ready to have children but would like to plan for the future, egg freezing is an increasingly popular option to consider. It doesn't necessarily guarantee future pregnancy, but it does mean that when you are ready to consider inseminating your eggs, you're working with the healthiest version of your eggs possible.

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