Fertility and age
As many people know, the ability to get pregnant is more difficult the older a woman is. During each menstrual cycle, a woman loses about 1,000 immature eggs. Over time, this monthly loss means the chance of a successful pregnancy is much lower. By age 30, fertility starts to decline. Once a woman reaches the mid-30s, the decline starts to happen even faster, and women over 40 only have about a 1 in 10 chance of pregnancy each menstrual cycle.
Understanding oocyte cryopreservation
Women who decide to have eggs frozen will be given fertility medications to encourage multiple eggs to grow in a single cycle. Next, the patient will undergo an egg retrieval, where the fertility doctor will insert a thin needle into the follicles to retrieve the eggs. The specimen is then frozen, either alone or in combination with a male partner’s sperm, and stored for future use. The eggs or embryos can be stored as long as needed until the patient is ready to attempt a pregnancy.
Is 35 too late?
Generally speaking, the younger a woman is, the higher the chances of egg retrieval success. That said, many women don’t start to worry about fertility until the mid-30s or older. Although fewer eggs are present now, ovarian stimulant medication can be used to increase the number of eggs produced during the retrieval cycle. Additionally, if the first cycle is unsuccessful, a woman over 35 can have another retrieval performed to increase the number of eggs for storage. Although more time, effort, and medication may be needed, women over 35 can successfully undergo oocyte cryopreservation.
The best age for egg freezing
Although fertility is highest at a younger age, women who store eggs early on may not need or use the specimen. Pregnancy could happen naturally, or plans could change completely. Many younger women are also not financially stable enough to afford such a procedure. With these variables in mind, a recent study found that at age 37, oocyte cryopreservation had the most significant benefit over no action and was most cost-effective.
Although each case will be unique, and the fertility doctor can best advise on the success rates of egg freezing for each patient, there is hope for women over 35. With a medicated cycle or 2, many women are pleased with the number of eggs retrieved. Once in storage, patients can breathe a sigh of relief that a future pregnancy is much more likely.