Egg freezing. It’s all the rage. It’s all the buzz. But, we ought to stop and think, is it worth it?
The main benefit of freezing our eggs is that if in 10 years, when we’re ready to start a family, we have eggs in the “bank.” And… in my world, that’s awesome!
But, in reality, how many frozen eggs turn into live babies? Well… in reality, about 1% of eggs turn into living, breathing babies. Granted the percentage of live babies is pretty low, it’s variability is based on the factors of woman’s age, along with many many factors which contribute to egg quality. Unfortunately, there’s no test for egg quality. The only way to determine the quality of eggs is to undergo an IVF cycle. When those eggs get combined with the sperm, the endocrinologist will observe them for 3-5 days to see if they survive and become the beginnings of an embryo. Till then, there’s no great ways to determine egg quality. The other factor is the clinic and the doctor performing the procedure. Egg freezing is a highly specialized procedure and there are some doctors that are doing it well, and others that are… errrr, just not that great.
So theoretically, if you’re in a place where you know the person you want to procreate with, I would say it’s actually better to freeze embryos. At least embryos have a higher likelihood of survival in the body once they are implanted.
Let’s talk about a few other things that NO ONE talks about. It a bit of the dark side of egg freezing. It’s light and fun in your 20s and 30s but shit can really hit the fan later.
First and foremost, the cost…. Egg freezing is around $5-7k for the procedure itself. Then you pay a yearly fee to keep your eggs frozen. And as if that wasn’t enough, you will pay for IVF cycles to be able to use those frozen eggs because let’s face it— there’s no way the doctors can put the eggs back into your ovaries… once they are out of the body, the only way to use them is combine them with sperm in a petri dish and fingers crossed, they will turn into healthy babies. Sure, there are many insurance plans (funded or subsidized by employers that would rather you contribute your best years to a company than try to start a family and create work-life balance) that will pay for your egg freezing. But, read the fine print! Is this same insurance plan going to pay the yearly fees to keep these eggs frozen? AND most importantly, are they going to pay the hefty cost of using those eggs when you’re ready to have a baby?
Second, and in my book, probably the most important, there is the aspect of the uterus. How is the health of your uterus? It would be great if your uterus could also stay frozen at the tender age of 25 but… that science does not exist yet (at least in the world of reproductive endocrinology!). So, if you are freezing your eggs but haven’t done anything to preserve your uterine health, guess what? The other 1/2 of the equation in having a healthy baby is missing! So, you will have succeeded in having a great egg, hopefully it will turn into a great embryo, but how will it turn into a healthy live baby?
When you are ready to use your frozen eggs, your reproductive endocrinologist will introduce sperm to the eggs in a petri dish and then observe how many turn into healthy viable embryos that survive to day 5. THEN, the embryos will be implanted into your uterus… where hopefully the little embryo will thrive and become a live baby. As you can imagine, the odds are not great for this little embryo.
I have to say, from what I have seen, the psychological impact of having frozen eggs is a huge disservice to women. It’s easy to think, oh, I have eggs in the bank, so I can do whatever I want till I’m ready to have a baby. I can burn the candle on both ends, I can eat what I like, drink what I like, live the way I like because I have an insurance policy against the ticking clock. Right?
WRONG. As I’ve already mentioned, you cannot freeze your eggs, deplete your body’s resources and expect to still have a baby.
Even after all the down sides, I’m not opposed to egg freezing. I think it’s pretty cool. I am a fan of the advance of science that is making it possible for women to CHOOSE when to start a family, rather than be slave to the ticking clock. If you have the resources to freeze your eggs, by all means, do so! I am all for a WOMAN’S RIGHT to choose – if and when to start a family. I want to share the reality of it though. If you are thinking about freezing your eggs, stay tuned! Next up… What to do before you freeze your eggs.