Medical contribution by Brianna Schumacher, M.D.
Brianna Schumacher, M.D., is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Dr. Schumacher is an advocate for early fertility diagnosis and treatment, as well as egg freezing for women to preserve their fertility for future family building options. She sees patients in SGF’s Philadelphia and Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, offices.
The power to have children when the timing is right, not when their biological clock dictates, is the reason thousands of women have decided to freeze their eggs. Egg freezing, a technique in which a reproductive endocrinologist removes eggs from the ovaries and then freezes them, has revolutionized how and when women can have children. The technology that allows women to preserve their fertility has changed the course of reproductive health and leaves women feeling more empowered and less anxious.
Shady Grove Fertility’s Egg Freezing Program offers women the chance to test their ovarian reserve (number of eggs remaining in the ovaries) and use those results to have a thoughtful, tailored, discussion to determine if egg freezing is a good fit for them. Egg freezing is a streamlined approach that includes a physician consultation, various financial options, and more importantly, promising pregnancy rates when they return to use their eggs. Once eggs are frozen, they remain that way indefinitely and are available to thaw at any point. The benefits of egg freezing are more than just having frozen eggs – it is freedom from the biological clock.
Here are the Top Five Reasons to Freeze Your Eggs:
- Eggs supply is limited. Women are born with all the eggs we will ever have. We are born with about a million and by the time we go through menopause – there are almost no eggs left. Peak fertility is in our early 20s when pregnancy rates are approximately 25% each month. For women in their 30s, pregnancy declines to 15 percent each month, and by the time we are entering our 40s, pregnancy rates are on average 5% per month. While early menopause and premature ovarian failure can also affect egg supply, egg freezing helps ensure the possibility that you will be able to use your own eggs and have biological children.
- Egg quality diminishes as women age. As women age, the percentage of eggs in the ovaries that have the correct number of chromosomes decreases. This percentage is what is referred to as ‘egg quality’ . We do not have a way to ‘test’ the eggs, but we do know that maternal age is a good estimate. For women at 35 years of age, we estimate half of the eggs are already abnormal and by the time we hit 40 years of age, only a quarter of the remaining eggs can result in a baby. Because eggs stay the age at which they were frozen, freezing eggs at a younger age ensures a larger portion of eggs are normal when you are ready to have your family.
- Egg freezing allows you to have it all. For many, having a career and being a mother are of equal importance. Some women choose to pursue having a family first and come back to a career; others want to establish a career prior to having children. With egg freezing, women can choose to pursue career and relationship goals and once comfortable, come back to motherhood. The process can allow you to find a secure relationship, focus on your professional goals, and ultimately take control of your life by giving you a choice to get pregnant when the time is right, for you.
- You will leave you with more than just frozen eggs. The pressure to beat the biological clock is felt by almost everyone. Many women have stated that after egg freezing, just knowing they are there lifts a large weight off their shoulders. One of the most common feelings we hear from our women is that it has provided them with the freedom to date without the pressure of the biological clock.
- Egg freezing results in babies – in the right hands. Eggs (single cells) are more fragile than embryos (hundreds of cells). As a result, freezing and thawing eggs is more complicated and requires experienced embryologists. The technology took much longer to perfect, but now many fertility clinics have the experience and results to show for it. Today, we have many happy women who have used frozen eggs to complete their family – and the numbers are increasing exponentially every day. A word of caution – not every fertility clinic has equal outcomes. Take time to research and find a clinic in your area that has good ‘egg thaw’ rates and can give an estimate of how many pregnancies have resulted from eggs they have frozen. In this case, generally bigger is better – larger clinics are more experienced and have better outcomes.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of February 2020.
To learn more about egg freezing benefits or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Schumacher, call 1-877-411-9292 to speak with one of our New Patient Center Liaisons, fill out this form to schedule an appointment, or register for one of our upcoming patient educational events.