So you are considering preserving your fertility. Good for you, way to take charge of your
reproductive potential and plan for your future. Whether you haven’t met the right partner, need to focus on school or your career, aren’t ready to parent, or have a medical condition that affects fertility, there are many reasons to consider egg freezing. It is liberating and exciting to do so, but not so fast. It is still a large undertaking, and you need to educate yourself and go in with eyes wide open.
Get ready for yet another big gender inequity. Did you know a woman is born with all of her eggs, the number of eggs and the quality of eggs declines overtime, and more significantly after age 35, by 40, 50% of women have difficulty achieving pregnancy and by 45, 99% of us are infertile?!! Unfortunately, looking and feeling young doesn’t equal good fertility, and unintended childlessness is a common consequence of delayed childbearing. So just like you prepare for your financial future by learning, planning and saving, I am here to encourage you to do the same with your fertility.
Egg freezing provides women with more choices in reproductive health by providing a means to “stop the biological clock,” essentially a technologic bridge from reproductive prime to preferred
age of conception. Through the stimulation portion of IVF, women grow follicles and mature eggs that can be removed from her ovary, frozen and saved for later.
But hold up! Egg freezing is no walk in the park, it takes a lot of time, energy and money. It starts with 2 weeks of injections medication (yes, with needles), several vaginal ultrasounds and blood draws and culminates in a surgical procedure where the eggs are removed (though a needle in your vagina!!). There are plenty of side effects, but the main ones are bloating and fatigue. The two largest drawbacks of egg freezing are the cost (it is wicked expensive if not covered by insurance— $7-$15K), and the fact that the eggs might not work.
Reproductive biology is really inefficient and you can save a lot of eggs, and still not have enough to make a baby when you need them to.
So now that you know the basics, what are the next steps in taking charge of your fertility?
1. Ask your doctor for fertility testing at your yearly well woman visit. This is an AMH
level and can be followed over time as a little window into your fertility. It doesn’t tell
you if it will be hard to achieve pregnancy but it does tell you if you have eggs left.
Every woman is different, and you don’t want to find out when it is too late that you are
out of eggs.
2. Take care of your health: Minimize alcohol and eliminate marijuana, minimize
reproductive toxins in your life, and protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections
that can cause infertility.
3. Talk to a reproductive specialist, and learn about your options. Consider preserving
your fertility with egg freezing or embryo freezing.
Julie Lamb, MD FACOG
Director of Fertility Preservation
Pacific NW Fertility and IVF Specialists