Women are at their peak fertility in their early 20’s but most of us are not ready to start a family at that age. Increasingly women are delaying childbearing into their late 30’s and even 40’s. Not only does the quantity of eggs decline as a woman ages but the quality declines as well. Poor egg quality leads to a higher rate of infertility, more frequent miscarriages, and a greater risk of chromosomal disorders in the offspring.
As a result, some women are deciding to become more proactive and freeze their eggs at a younger age (read April’s story).
Advances in technology have made egg freezing much more successful. A new technique called "vitrification" -- where the eggs are frozen so quickly that damaging ice crystals don’t get a chance to form -- has made it more likely for eggs to survive thawing at a later date.
How Does it Work?
The process begins in exactly the same way as traditional IVF, which involves injecting medications that stimulate egg growth to the point that they can be harvested. However, instead of fertilizing the eggs with sperm, they are frozen unfertilized and stored until a woman is ready to conceive sometime in the future. At that point, the eggs are thawed and fertilized to hopefully result in viable embryos that can then be transferred into the uterus.
And although egg freezing can never be considered a sure thing, recent evidence is showing that the success of egg freezing is now on par with traditional IVF and the rates are especially high in women who freeze their eggs before the age of 37.
When Should I Freeze my Eggs?
The ideal time to freeze your eggs is in your mid to late 20’s or early to mid 30’s. Women who freeze their eggs are often educated career women who are aware of their biological clock and want to be proactive about preserving their fertility. While egg freezing does not guarantee that you will have a child in the future, preserving your younger eggs may extend your fertile window of opportunity into your forties, when you may be in a better position to raise a child.
How Successful is it?
The success of egg freezing is highly dependent on your age at the time of egg freezing. The best results are in women under 35. That said, egg freezing can be considered on an individual basis in women over 35. It is difficult to provide exact success rates because the experience with egg freezing is quite limited. However, vitrification has resulted in improved outcomes over the last few years.
How to Get Started
Ask your GP or walk-in clinic for a referral to Olive. Your Olive physician will review the details and help you get started.