Hollywood celebrities like Olivia Munn have been very public about their decisions to freeze their eggs for future pregnancies. And, let’s face it, your eggs won’t last forever if you just leave them in your ovaries either. In fact, by the time you hit your late 30s, the two million eggs you were born with will have dwindled to about 25,000 or so.
In addition to falling in numbers, your eggs degrade over time, just as your skin, bones, and muscles do. You know you don’t want to be rushed into a pregnancy due to a panic over aging eggs. But can you really freeze your relatively young eggs until you’re sure you’re ready for a baby without worrying that they won’t be usable when you need them?
Or what if you’re facing the prospect of medical treatments -- such as chemotherapy and radiation -- that may impair your fertility? Is the risk of egg freezing worth the extra time and expense? Can you really have a baby years later?
Flash-freezing preserves eggs
Dr. Vicken Sepilian, a reproductive specialist here in Glendale and Santa Monica, California, recommends a flash-freezing process known as vitrification that’s performed directly after your egg retrieval. Vitrification preserves your eggs better than older, slower freezing technologies did. Your eggs are then stored at the extremely low temperature of -196° C.
Experts don’t know exactly how long frozen eggs can last because current egg-freezing technology has only been available for about ten years. As of now, the oldest known frozen egg that resulted in a pregnancy was nine years old.
So far, evidence supports that most eggs retain their viability throughout the flash-freezing, thawing, fertilizing, and implanting processes. Evidence also suggests that frozen eggs may prove to be as viable as frozen sperm, which can last for 30 years.
How many should you freeze?
When you consult with Dr. Sepilian about egg freezing, he conducts a thorough physical examination, including blood tests and a medical history, to determine your health and your ovarian reserve (the number of eggs you have left). He also takes time to get to know you and your present and future goals. Dr. Sepilian believes that determining the ideal number of eggs to freeze is highly individual, and is based on factors such as:
- Your age
- Your health
- Your ovarian reserve
- How many children you want
For example, if you’re healthy, under 35 years old, and want a 90% chance of a successful, healthy pregnancy, Dr. Sepilian recommends freezing at least 20 eggs for every child you hope to conceive. However, if you wait until you’re over 40, and still want a 90% chance of success, Dr. Sepilian advises freezing up to 70 eggs per potential pregnancy.
You can be sure that when you meet with Dr. Sepilian, he considers all of the above factors as well as your personal goals and lifestyle when making recommendations about egg freezing. He tailors a plan that’s designed just for you.
When should you freeze?
Freezing your eggs in your 20s increases your chances of harvesting a good number of healthy, viable eggs and therefore increases your chance of an eventual pregnancy. Freezing in your 30s but before the age of 35 may be ideal both for egg quality and because you’re more likely to be financially stable or have egg freezing as a work perk than you were in your 20s. Freezing your eggs after age 40 is still possible, but you may need to freeze more eggs due to their older age and because of other fertility issues you may have.
One month until your future
If you decide to undergo egg freezing, the retrieval process takes about a month, though it can be accelerated if you’re due for medical treatment. Dr. Sepilian first administers drugs to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs during your cycle. You also take drugs that prevent premature ovulation.
After about 8-14 days, you then inject yourself with medications that help the eggs mature so they’ll be ready for retrieval. The retrieval process itself takes about 20 minutes under light anesthesia. Dr. Sepilian removes the eggs through your vagina using needle aspiration.
You’ll probably feel crampy after your procedure. However, you can return to most normal activities within a week. When you’re ready for a pregnancy, the procedure is similar to that of in vitro fertilization.
If you want to get ready for a future baby by freezing your eggs today, call us for a personalized consultation with Dr. Sepilian or book your appointment online.