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What is the best age to consider egg freezing?

Laboratory equipment used for egg freezing.

Introduction: Egg freezing has emerged as a vital option for women seeking to preserve their fertility for various reasons, including career planning, personal readiness, or medical issues. As this decision can have long-term implications, understanding the optimal age for egg freezing is crucial. This article will delve into the factors influencing the best age to consider egg freezing, as well as the procedure’s intricacies, potential side effects, and important considerations to make an informed choice. We aim to provide a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this important decision with confidence and clarity.

Considering Egg Freezing

If you are reading this article, then you are almost certainly considering egg freezing as an option. One of the most critical things that you must do is conduct research on the subject, including the best age to consider egg freezing. Egg freezing is commonly used for assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The eggs are harvested from the ovaries and frozen for use in the future.

Several fertility clinics offer egg freezing in Bangkok, but it is vital that you choose the right one. Unfortunately, some clinics don’t have the modern facilities to ensure that the eggs are frozen immediately after retrieval, thus reducing the chances of becoming pregnant in the future. While there are no guarantees that the procedure will work, the eggs must be frozen rapidly and at the correct temperature.

The Best Age to Freeze Your Eggs

The optimal age to freeze your eggs is in your twenties, with some arguing that your early thirties is also suitable. The younger you are, the higher the ovarian reserve you will have, and the eggs are also likely to be of higher quality, assuming that you lead a healthy lifestyle. However, eggs cannot be preserved indefinitely, so you need to factor this into your decision process.

We do not recommend egg freezing for women over the age of 38 unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as a cancer diagnosis, as the chances of success are significantly reduced.

Understanding Success Rates and Risks

It should be stated that although egg-freezing allows females to delay entering motherhood, there are no guarantees that it will be successful and, therefore, should not be treated as an insurance policy. Inevitably, some frozen eggs will not be suitable, with some destroyed during the thawing process. Also, you will have to consider the health risks and potential complications of becoming pregnant at, for example, 40.

While eggs frozen at 30 are likely to be the same as regular eggs, increasing your chances of pregnancy, your body at 40 may be less forgiving.

Egg Retrieval Process

A common misconception is that egg retrieval is a simple process. Sadly, this is untrue, and a lot of planning needs to be undertaken long before the eggs get to the freezing stage. It is another reason why it is better to consider freezing your eggs at a younger age, as the harvesting process will cause the body less stress. Hormonal changes are required to stimulate egg production, and numerous tests will be required before, during, and after the procedure occurs.

The eggs should be frozen using liquid nitrogen, but many clinics still use a process called “slow freezing,” which significantly reduces egg survival rates.

Potential Side Effects

Although everyone’s body will respond differently, most people should expect some side effects, which often increase with age. Egg freezing is likely to cause cramping and pain along with mood swings, including depression. While these side-effects are short-term, you may want to be proactive and book some time off work during the procedure.

However, some side-effects, including weight gain or bloating, could be a sign of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is more serious. Finally, the female should avoid unprotected sex in the days after the procedure as some eggs may not have been successfully retrieved, and the chances of pregnancy are higher.

Medical Reasons for Egg Freezing

If the female is diagnosed with cancer and requires chemotherapy or radiotherapy, we would strongly suggest freezing her eggs before undergoing treatment as it is known to affect fertility. Also, if the woman requires surgery on her ovaries, egg freezing is recommended, as do women who have a family history of early menopause. These are all cases where eggs should be frozen for medical reasons rather than as a lifestyle choice.

Eggs vs. Embryos: Which to Freeze?

Firstly, it is essential that we point out that eggs are unfertilised, and embryos are fertilized eggs using your current partner’s sperm. Although it may sound disrespectful, if you decide to freeze your eggs as a lifestyle choice, does that mean that you are not ready to commit to your current partner? While only you know the answer, freezing eggs, as opposed to embryos, will give you more options in the future.

Embryo freezing is suitable for women with medical conditions, although both procedures carry the same risks during the thawing process.

Planning and Preparation

Egg freezing, regardless of your age, is not something that you should decide lightly. You should do plenty of research regarding the process and seek professional advice rather than relying on information found on the internet. You must make an informed decision based on accurate information, and we would always recommend discussing your plans with trusted family members and friends.

Make sure that you conduct due diligence on the clinics, find out what freezing procedures they use, and how long they will store your eggs.

Understanding the Costs

Sadly, it is impossible to escape the fact that egg freezing and the subsequent IVF treatment is expensive. You need to be realistic about your current financial position and what your financial situation at the time you wish to try and become pregnant is likely to be.

Cost for younger females can make the process prohibitive, and as there are no guarantees of success, you may require more than one course of IVF treatment, significantly increasing the cost.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the earlier you freeze your eggs, the greater the chance of them being healthy. However, if you are not planning on becoming pregnant until your late 30s, egg retrieval at 21 may not be the route you should be taking due to the factors outlined above. Financial along with health factors may also play a huge bearing on your decision.

It is also important to remember that you should not feel compelled to try for a child in the future just because you have decided to freeze your eggs.

At First Fertility, we have found that each individual’s circumstances require careful consideration and professional guidance to achieve the best outcomes.

FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best age to consider egg freezing?

The optimal age to freeze your eggs is in your twenties or early thirties. The younger you are, the higher the ovarian reserve and the better the quality of the eggs. However, egg freezing is generally not recommended for women over the age of 38 unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as a cancer diagnosis.

2. Are there guarantees of success with egg freezing?

No, there are no guarantees that egg freezing will be successful. Some frozen eggs may not be suitable for fertilization, and some may be destroyed during the thawing process. Health risks and potential complications of becoming pregnant later in life should also be considered.

3. Is egg retrieval a simple process?

Egg retrieval is not a straightforward process and requires significant planning. Hormonal changes are needed to stimulate egg production, and multiple tests are required before, during, and after the procedure. The process can be stressful and may cause side effects.

4. What side effects can be expected from egg freezing?

Common side effects include cramping, pain, and mood swings like depression. In some cases, more serious conditions like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) can occur, which may require medical attention. Weight gain or bloating can also be a sign of OHSS.

5. Why should women with health issues consider egg freezing?

Women diagnosed with cancer and requiring chemotherapy or radiotherapy should consider egg freezing as these treatments can affect fertility. Women who need surgery on their ovaries or have a family history of early menopause should also consider egg freezing.

6. Is it better to freeze eggs or embryos?

Eggs are unfertilised, while embryos are fertilised eggs using your current partner’s sperm. Freezing eggs provides more options for the future, especially if egg freezing is a lifestyle choice rather than a medical necessity. Embryo freezing may be more appropriate for women with medical conditions.

7. How should I choose a fertility clinic for egg freezing?

Research thoroughly and select a clinic with modern facilities that can ensure rapid freezing at the correct temperature to maximize egg survival rates. Conduct due diligence on the freezing procedures they use and understand the storage terms for the frozen eggs.

8. What are the financial considerations for egg freezing?

Egg freezing and subsequent IVF treatment are expensive, and there is no guarantee of success, which may result in the need for multiple rounds of treatment. Your current and future financial positions should be realistically assessed before proceeding.

9. Should I discuss my plans for egg freezing with others?

Yes, it is recommended to seek professional advice and discuss your plans with trusted family members and friends. Making an informed decision based on accurate information is crucial.

10. Can egg freezing be done at any age?

While egg freezing can technically be done at any age, it is most effective when done in your twenties or early thirties. The procedure is generally not recommended for women over 38 unless there are specific medical conditions that warrant it.

  • Published on : Tuesday June 29, 2021
  • Last updated : Thursday July 4, 2024
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About the author

Michelle Tan is an IVF Consultant with 12 years of experience in fertility consulting. Having personally undergone IVF and surrogacy, she brings firsthand insight and empathy to her work. Based in Singapore, Michelle frequently travels to clinics in Bangkok, Phnom Penh, and Bishkek, sharing her expertise and supporting patients on their fertility journeys.