To Freeze or not to Freeze? Six Things to Consider Before Freezing Your Eggs
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Any health-related decision can generate stress, emotional turmoil, and long hours of deliberation. When it comes to reproduction, personal decisions are even deeper in their complexity and scope. Egg freezing is gaining popularity as a viable option for women to reproduce at a more advantageous period in time. Biologically speaking, it involves stimulating a woman’s ovaries in order to produce multiple eggs, which are consequently retrieved and stored at subzero temperatures. These eggs are eventually thawed and implanted in the uterus, thus affording a woman and her partner more reproductive freedom and chances at having a healthy child when they feel ready to do so. For some, this avenue of postponed reproduction is the answer to a presently hectic lifestyle or a debilitating round of cancer treatment. For others, fertility preservation is a route that is too emotionally and physically taxing. Here are a few thoughts to consider:
1. Timing is Truly Everything
Whether you’re searching for your soul mate or turning onto a busy street, timing is everything. For many women, a rising career, an educational aim, or an on-the-go lifestyle can present difficulties when it comes to having a baby. The process of egg retrieval offers these candidates a safety net of sorts—by freezing their eggs at a younger age, they have the chance to reproduce later, if and when life proves calmer and more conducive to a child.
2. Potential Risks Involved
With the egg retrieval process comes certain risks to the female body. The main, potential complication is OHSS, or ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. In five percent of patients, the ovaries respond to heightened hormone stimulation over-aggressively. As a result, the ovaries become swollen, and fluid must be drained from the abdomen. If untreated, OHSS can result in kidney failure, blood clots, and, in extremely infrequent cases, a fatality.
3. Deep-Rooted Phobia of Needles
If you are someone who can’t stand the sight, mention, or idea of a needle, this process may not be for you. Successful egg retrieval requires roughly two weeks of hormone shots to stimulate the ovaries and produce eggs. These injections are often self-administered, or applied by a close friend or loved one. If you get woozy or panicked at the doctor’s office, you may want to explore alternative options.
4. Freezing Time
If you make the decision to freeze your eggs, then time is of the essence. An egg that is frozen in your 20s or 30s is healthier than an egg naturally existing in a forty-year-old. The younger the egg, the more likely that conception can potentially occur. When considering a freezing timeframe, schedule the process sooner rather than later.
5. In Two Weeks’ Time… In Ten Minutes’ Time…
A common misconception regarding the procedure is that it is both highly invasive and time-consuming. In actuality, the hormone treatment is completed in two weeks—at maximum. The patient must routinely visit their clinic in that time, to receive injections and be monitored. The retrieval process, which occurs under sedation or a mild dosage of anesthesia, takes approximately ten minutes to complete.
6. Fertility Preservation is an Option—Not a Guarantee!
Some have the impression that by freezing an egg, successful implantation and birth will naturally follow. However, it usually takes many eggs to create one baby. The possibility that one egg has of maturing is two to twelve percent; therefore, women are encouraged to engage in multiple cycles of treatment to increase the likelihood of success. Other factors also influence results, such as a woman’s age and the quality of her partner’s sperm. It is emotionally and psychologically imperative to remember that freezing offers a chance, not an eventuality.
If you are seriously considering fertility preservation, please call us at (516) 739-2100 for additional information, alternative options and appointment requests. For your convenience we have office locations in Brooklyn, Mineola, Stony Brook, and West Islip. Our friendly staff will be happy to assist you in finding the fertility program that best suits your lifestyle and needs.