What You Should Know About Freezing Your Eggs

Once upon a time, for many women, the goal was to get married, live in a house with a white picket fence, and have a handful of babies whom they'd raise in their image. While that may have been the case in our parents' or grandparents' era, times have changed. These days, being a parent is far less of a priority than it used to be. Instead, people are opting to wait to have children or, in some cases, have decided to not have them at all.

According to research completed by Forbes, more Millennials than ever have put off motherhood in exchange for pursuing and establishing their careers. While no one should ever feel as though they need to be a parent, let alone at a certain age, there is one downside to waiting: fertility only lasts so long.

While sperm may have quite a long shelf life (Charlie Chaplin did become a dad at 73, after all), eggs don't have such a luxury. In fact, the average age for menopause for women in the United State is 51, with some women going through it in their early 40s (via the Mayo Clinic). It's the type of reality that can give someone who may want to have children in the future pause — and seriously contemplate freezing their eggs.

But before jumping into such a journey, there are definitely things to consider.

It's a numbers game when it comes to age and egg amount

While there are some women who decide in their early 40s they better freeze their eggs stat, the older you are, the less chance you have for a successful pregnancy. Although the average age that women freeze their eggs, according to the Reproductive BioMedicine Journal, is 37, the most optimal time to do so is before 36. It's also important to realize that some clinics will only allow you to store your eggs for up to 10 years, as their success rate drops every year after that.

In addition to age, the number of eggs you freeze plays a role in the potential success of a future pregnancy. The more eggs that are retrieved during the process, the better your chances of conceiving a fetus. For example, according to Fertilly, a 37-year-old woman who freezes 20 eggs has a 75% chance of having at least one successful birth, whereas a 42-year-old woman with the same amount of frozen eggs only has a 37% chance. Taking this math into consideration, a 42-year-old woman would need to freeze roughly 60 eggs to have the same success rate. Plus, a woman freezing her eggs doesn't mean that some aren't lost in the process due to immaturity of the egg, being unsuitable for implantation, or issues with freezing or thawing.

There's no guarantee freezing your eggs will result in a pregnancy

Even if you find a fantastic clinic with rave reviews and one that friends highly recommend, it doesn't necessarily mean everything is going to fall into place and you'll have a baby at 45 because you froze your eggs in your 30s. While some women are fortunate enough to freeze their eggs without a hitch during the first procedure, other women have to endure multiple rounds. Not only is this costly, as insurance doesn't cover it in most cases, but stimulation and retrieval are not for the faint of heart. It takes a couple of weeks and involves multiple hormonal injections, and that's even before the actual retrieval of the eggs (via PBS). It may not be as involved as IVF, but it's still no walk in the park.

Then, there's no promise that, when you're ready to have a baby, conception is an automatic part of the equation. Simply, sometimes things just don't work out. From an emotional, mental, and physical standpoint, there are many factors to consider before freezing your eggs. Not only do you need to be prepared for multiple procedures but also the possibility of eventual disappointment. But, like most things in life, you don't know what the outcome will be until you try. 

If freezing your eggs is something that you think is right for you, then go for it. Just make sure to educate yourself about the pros and cons, and do your best to have realistic expectations.