Dr. Daniel Kort with Neway Fertility offers tips to patients who want to preserve their fertility.
With rapid technological advances in the fertility field, increasing numbers of women are now choosing to freeze and store their eggs. Previously reserved for women facing a cancer diagnosis requiring chemotherapy or removal of an ovary, most women who freeze their eggs today are doing so to preserve their options. Simply put, they do not want to get pregnant now but may want to in the future.
While this procedure has been showed to be safe and effective, even endorsed the by American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), it is essential that each patient understand what egg freezing truly is, what it can and can’t do.
That’s the caution from Daniel Kort, MD, board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and Practice Director at Neway Fertility in New York City.
“Oocyte Cryopreservation – egg freezing – has be heralded as a type of ‘female emancipation,’ allowing women the freedom to defer childbearing and take control of their future. However, the decision to freeze eggs is an individual one. Every women needs to make her own decision after weighing the pros and cons of this medical procedure,” states Dr. Kort.
Recent evidence indicates that proper counseling of women about the egg freezing process can impact – even alter — their decision to freeze their eggs. Scientists at the University of California – San Francisco (UCSF) reported in May 2018 that nearly 50 percent of surveyed women who underwent the egg-freezing procedure at UCSF between 2012 and 2016 were not fully certain about their decision. In fact, some of them expressed regret.
“By understanding the technology, the process, and the procedure, women can be empowered to make the right decision for themselves as individuals, not a demographic or a market sector.”
Dr. Kort’s comments come at a time when egg freezing is growing in popularity, especially among healthy women in their 20s and early 30s. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology estimates that some 20,000 women had their eggs frozen during a recent seven-year period – beginning with fewer than 500 in 2009 and increasing to more than 7,500 during 2015. These numbers are expected to rise each year.
This rapid rise is likely driven by medical advances as well as changing social norms. At the 2018 meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, anthropologists from Yale University presented findings showing that “lack of a stable partner” – not the pursuit of careers or advanced education – is the primary reason why many women have their eggs frozen.
“While the jury is still out, freezing eggs may give women time to meet the right person and avoid what some experts refer to as ‘panic partnering’ – marrying in a hurry because they want the best chance at a healthy pregnancy,” Dr. Kort explains. “Nevertheless, despite rapid technological advances and success for many women, egg freezing does not guarantee a healthy pregnancy in the future,” Dr. Kort advises.
Recent studies, as well as data from the Assisted Reproductive Technology clearinghouse, indicate that the number of mature eggs frozen as well as the age of the woman at the time of freezing best predicts the chance of successful pregnancy from the frozen eggs. “The paradox is that the best candidates for egg freezing – young women who are able to freeze lots of eggs – are the least likely to need these eggs in the future.”
For women considering egg freezing, Dr. Kort offers these suggestions:
- Start investigating early. While there is no “wrong” age to freeze eggs, the best outcomes are achieved in women in their early to mid-30s.
- Set a goal with your doctor for the number of eggs you want to freeze. Find a number that predicts a good chance of pregnancy, yet limits the total number of cycles, expense, and interference with your daily life.
- Maintain realistic expectations. Egg freezing is still a new technology and pregnancy is never guaranteed.
- Find a doctor and fertility center you respect and trust. Learn as much as you can about egg freezing and what this unique technology can do for you.
Bio: Daniel Kort, MD, FACOG, is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. He is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). He currently is Practice Director and Associate Medical Director at Neway Fertility in New York City.
Posted on behalf of