Egg freezing is an excellent opportunity for women to shake off the pressures of society and not focus on motherhood right away. By freezing your eggs, you can put off pregnancy until later on in life when you’re ready, giving you the chance to achieve your goals, get back to your full health if you’ve been ill, progress your career, or just simply wait until you feel you’ve met the right person. But how do you know if egg freezing is truly right for you?
What is egg freezing?
Egg freezing is a procedure where your eggs are harvested and then stored in freezing temperatures for preservation. When collected, multiple eggs are chosen in order to increase the survival rate when it comes time to defrost - as not all may endure this process. Thanks to recent advances in this field, Harley Street’s lab has adopted a new process called ‘vitrification’, where the eggs are first dehydrated and then rapidly frozen to -196°C. This amazing new technique has resulted in drastically improved freeze and thaw survival rates of over 90%.
Starting from 1st July 2022, patients can now store their eggs for their own treatment for up to 55 years, providing they reconsent every 10 years. Dr Suvir Venkataraman, General Manager at Harley Street Fertility Clinic “welcomes this law” as it will give their patients “more time to prepare for parenthood.”
Who is egg freezing for?
Egg freezing is available to many women, from all walks of life. Whether you’re able to give birth naturally or not, you can freeze your eggs. If you’re not ready, haven’t found the right partner, or want to focus on your career first before starting a family, egg freezing could be a great option for you.
It’s also an amazing way for those who are struggling with their health to preserve their fertility. Women who unfortunately fall ill and experience infertility as a side effect, or wouldn’t be able to get pregnant after life-saving treatment, can freeze their eggs prior to this and still try to get pregnant in the future. Or, if you have a history of early menopause in your family, choosing to freeze your eggs early means you can still start a family when you’re ready.
Is it right for me?
No matter the reason behind why you would like to freeze your eggs, one of the most important factors of success, is the age at which you choose to do so. Many women are asking “at what age should you freeze your eggs” and “should I freeze my eggs at 35?” Both are valid questions, and more women in the UK are actually choosing to freeze their eggs after the age of 38. However, the success rates of getting pregnant and carrying a baby naturally, tend to decrease at this age. This means the risks involved will unfortunately increase, but not all is lost. With the help of the assisted fertility technology such as IVF, women are successfully carrying babies well into their 40s. Your clinic will be able to advise on whether or not this is the right option for you.
Egg freezing always has a better chance of survival and success when harvested at an earlier age, in your 20s. But this can present issues of its own for many women. For example, although freezing your eggs at a younger age is better, some young women might not know if they want to freeze their eggs yet. They might not have the money to afford the procedure, or some might freeze their eggs at 20 but in 10 years still not feel ready to start a family. In this case, their eggs would have to be disposed of and re-harvested if they wanted to continue down this specific fertility path.
If you’re thinking about freezing your eggs, it’s imperative you do your research and speak to a clinician so you can make the right decision for you, as early as possible. It’s best not to look at egg freezing as a last-minute or last-chance option when you’re older, it should be treated as a forward-thinking option that young women consider much earlier in order to produce more successful pregnancies in the future.