Stopping the biological clock
Has egg-freezing come up in conversation lately? With age, some women have increased difficulties getting pregnant. Others choose to delay pregnancy to pursue a career or other goals. Whatever the reason, egg-freezing is putting a stopper on the biological clock. Women can store eggs for use at a later date, but pregnancy is not guaranteed. Even a natural pregnancy from a young, healthy woman is not guaranteed. So what are the chances of having a child with frozen eggs?
Eggs on ice
Egg freezing or oocyte cryopreservation was once considered experimental. Today, clinics across the country offer egg freezing. The process starts by stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs using hormones. For 10 days, the ovaries will make the eggs needed for freezing. In a simple outpatient procedure, the doctor uses ultrasound and an aspirator to remove eggs. The fertility clinic then freezes the eggs using liquid nitrogen at subzero temperatures. A frozen egg can be used later with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and lasts about 10 years.
Success rates of egg freezing
Freezing eggs does not guarantee pregnancy in the future, as thawing eggs is a delicate process. Each is a single cell and is prone to damage. In 2017, a group of doctors attempted to create a statistical model to determine the success rates. Most cases of egg freezing have at least a 50% chance of live birth. However, the model revealed the chances of getting pregnant were linked to 2 primary factors.
Factors that impact the success rate
Age and the number of eggs extracted are the most significant factors that affect pregnancy success. All women are born with a set number of eggs that rapidly decline in quantity and quality with age. Most women lose about 90% of their eggs by age 37. Therefore, the younger a woman harvests eggs, the higher the success rate. Youth does not entirely rule out success for older women. For women well past age 35, more eggs are necessary over additional cycles.
The more, the merrier
Multiple studies and test cases also support age-related egg production in women. For instance, the number of eggs harvested within a cycle for women under 35 was 15 on average. The number of eggs harvested per cycle for women over 35 ranged from 12 to 6, decreasing with age. What does this mean? The birth rate or chances of successful pregnancy are solely dependent on the number of eggs harvested from a particular patient. Older patients require more freezing cycles for a better chance of getting pregnant.
Egg freezing can be successful
There is hope for having a baby from frozen eggs. Older women are more likely to need multiple cycles to have a higher success rate, which can be costly. Freezing eggs for just one cycle aged 35 and below has at least a 50% chance of success. The more eggs over age 35, the better. Speak with a reproductive endocrinologist to understand how freezing works and the variables that affect success.