Is Egg Freezing the Answer?

By Elena Trukhacheva, MD, MSCI, President and Medical Director for Reproductive Medicine Institute (www.teamrmi.com)

Like dueling banjos, the beat goes on in reproductive medicine regarding women having babies later in life and egg freezing as an option for postponing childbearing, but how do the two connect? And how don’t they?

“Egg Freezing is one of the most innovative technologies available to our patients,” says Elena Trukhacheva, President and Medical Director for Reproductive Medicine Institute (www.teamrmi.com), with offices throughout Chicagoland.  “While it certainly can ‘buy’ some time, particularly in the cases of fertility preservation prior to chemotherapy, which can affect the quantity and quality of eggs; egg freezing should not be used as a ‘blank  check’ to delay childbirth. Using eggs frozen at a young age gives women a greater chance to conceive later in life, when they might not be able to get pregnant otherwise. However, the risks of pregnancy increase with age – the chances to have pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and some other serious medical complications of pregnancy go up.”

Another problem is that if pregnancy is not achieved from previously frozen eggs, a woman will reach an age where no more eggs will be available.  To address this, we recommend freezing about 10 mature eggs to have a fair chances of having a child, and about 20 matures eggs if the plan is to have 2 kids. However, there are individual differences – and for some women, this number may not be sufficient.

“Ideally, eggs that are frozen for social reasons, such as professional or personal issues, should be used as soon as the situation allows,” says Dr. Trukhacheva.  “It is not intended to enable a lengthy delay in determining the right time to conceive, but rather to use as soon as a woman’s social situation allows for a baby.”

Dr. Trukhacheva concludes that Egg Freezing CAN be the answer to bridging the gap of necessary medical treatment that can reduce the quality or quantity of eggs, or as a short term stopgap for personal or professional reasons.

“There is never an ‘ideal’ time when one is entirely ‘ready’ to have a baby,” says Trukhacheva.

“Egg Freezing can buy some time, but that time should be finite in the eyes of the potential parent, despite what technology may have to offer.”