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Is It Too Late to Freeze My Eggs?

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a blog by Serena H. Chen, M.D., IRMS Reproductive Medicine at Saint Barnabas, November 28, 2012

Egg freezing is in the news since the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) just announced that egg freezing is no longer considered experimental. This is the culmination of years of scientific struggle with the difficult technical aspects of freezing eggs. While freezing sperm and embryos has been routine for many years, freezing eggs has remained a mystery until very recently. Now that egg freezing is no longer experimental, many women are considering freezing their eggs to preserve their fertility. Since female fertility declines rapidly with age and many women are not ready to have a baby during their prime fertile years (age 18 to 27 years old), egg freezing seems like a very smart thing to do.

While it is true that the younger you are when you freeze your eggs, the more fertile your frozen eggs will be, it is also true that the younger you are, the less likely you are to need your frozen eggs. If you had a crystal ball, and knew that you would not find Mr. Right until you were 40, then the decision about egg freezing would be easy. But at age 25, how do you know Mr. Right might not come along in a couple of years? If you freeze your eggs at age 25 and you meet Mr. Right at age 27, you may never need your frozen eggs.

Perhaps someday, every female will receive a gift certificate to have her eggs frozen as a college graduation present. However right now, most of my patients that are interested in egg freezing are interested because they are getting older and they know that because of their personal circumstances, a baby is not in their immediate future and they want to maximize their chances of having a baby someday, when the time is right. So we do not have an age cut off right now for egg freezing. Indeed, most of my potential egg freezing patients are over 35 years old. While egg freezing may not be right for everyone, every person deserves to understand the process, the risks, and the benefits of egg freezing in her particular circumstances. This technology is still too new to provide strict guidelines about who should and should not be freezing their eggs. All of my patients have many questions before they proceed with the process and we do not have answers to many of their questions – the studies simply have not been done – the technology is still too new to have generated meaningful data. However, as one of my patients said – “I know you don’t have all the answers, Dr Chen, but I want to move forward – I feel that this is my best option right now – I know there are no guarantees but I feel that this is something positive I am doing for myself and I am improving my chances for the future.”

Other patients decide not to proceed – but feel good about making an informed decision.

So you might be too old to freeze your eggs but you cannot really know that until you have a conversation with a specialist who freezes eggs.

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