Can women depend on frozen eggs?

Not according to an op-ed piece in the New York Times October 16th edition.

It seems that every time a new advance is made in reproductive medicine there is someone to bash it by looking at it from the perspective of the glass being half empty rather than half full.

In this case Sarah Elizabeth Richards who wrote a book on egg freezing draws the startling conclusion that it does not assure a baby. Wow. But we all knew that. Nothing in our field is 100% effective.

In the Op-Ed piece entitled, “Don’t Depend on Those Frozen Eggs,” her bottom line is, “Women who are anxious to preserve their fertility during their prime baby-making years should take advantage of every opportunity to freeze. But despite egg freezing’s new cool factor, they should never forget its power to disappoint.”

What set off this whole discussion was the announcement by a couple of high-tech Silicone Vally companies that they would pay for egg freezing for their employees. “After receiving your job offer, you can order your hormone shots and be on your way to stashing away some good eggs so you can ascend to Sheryl Sandberg-esque greatness and still have a chance of having a biological family in your 40s and beyond.

Reactions to the news have varied from accolades for making the expensive procedure available, to the cynical accusation that corporate America is avoiding creating family-friendly work environments under the guise of reproductive empowerment. Yet amid all the debate over egg freezing’s role in women’s careers, there has been less talk about the still serious limitations of the medical procedure.”

The limitations she talks about is the 50% pregnancy rate when 6-8 eggs are thawed, fertilized and one or two resulting embryos are transferred when the eggs are from a woman under age 38. Many women under 38 can make many more than 6 to 8 eggs and thus may have multiple chances when they decide to proceed with thaw, fertilization and transfer.

She further asks, “It makes sense for a newly divorced 39-year-old to take that risk. But what about the 32-year-old who’s encouraged to freeze by her new job perk?”

Actually it makes more sense for the 32-year-old who’s fertility potential is really good if she does not plan to try to have a baby in the near future. Time flies pretty fast when you’re having fun and before you know it you’re in your 40’s and struggling to conceive.

I think you can depend on those eggs you freeze to give you approximately the same chance of having a baby if you tried at the age the eggs were frozen, and a greater chance than you would have to conceive naturally at the more advanced age when you thaw them.

For more information please see our page on Egg Freezing.

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