Freezing Your Eggs for a Future Pregnancy

Freezing eggs

I don’t keep up with the Kardashians or read many celebrity magazines, but I have heard that some female celebs are freezing their eggs to increase their odds of becoming pregnant later in life.

This sounds like a good plan if you have an active career now but would like to start a family after age 40. Oocyte cryopreservation is freezing your eggs for later use. Your chance of getting pregnant naturally decreases with age. By age 40, your chance of getting pregnant after one year of regular unprotected sex is only about 44 percent.

If you freeze your eggs now and want to become pregnant later, you will need to go through in vitro fertilization (IVF). During IVF, sperm from your partner or donor can fertilize your frozen eggs. These fertilized eggs – embryos – go into your womb to grow. Seems like a good plan? Maybe not for you.

Advantages of Freezing Your Eggs

One big advantage is that freezing works. You can successfully preserve your eggs for many years by having them frozen. Studies show that frozen eggs are still good after 10 years. Studies also show that frozen eggs work as well as fresh eggs for IVF. You may want to read a previous article in Pulse on the technology of egg freezing (vitrification) here.

The best use of IVF is for women who have a condition that will destroy future egg production. The most common condition is cancer. Some cancer treatments may leave you infertile. You may have the option of freezing your eggs before treatment and becoming pregnant after treatment.

Potential Disadvantages of Freezing Your Eggs

Unfortunately, when it comes to having a baby, being over age 40 is a disadvantage with any eggs, fresh or frozen. Success rates for an IVF after age 40 are lower than success rates for natural pregnancy after age 40. In other words, you may have a better chance of getting pregnant by just waiting and trying the old-fashioned way.

IVF is only a good option for women who are not able to get pregnant naturally. The usual reason for this is a problem with their partner’s sperm or a problem with egg production in their ovaries. And, you should know that IVF is no walk in the park. It can be an ordeal.

You will need to take medication to increase egg production. You will need to have a minor surgical procedure to remove the eggs. When you decide to have your frozen eggs fertilized and implanted, you will need to go through another minor procedure.

One more thing. If you are not a wealthy celebrity, IVF may be a big expense for you. In most cases, it will not be covered by your insurance. Your out-of-pocket cost for one try at IVF, plus the cost of freezing and preserving your eggs could be over $10,000. You could be spending all that cash for about a one in four chance of getting pregnant.

Bottom Line on Freezing Your Eggs

If you are healthy now, fertility experts do not recommend freezing your eggs to improve your chance of getting pregnant later. Unless you have a medical situation that will make you unable to produce eggs later, there is no advantage to freezing you eggs now. Don’t rely on celebrities for pregnancy planning. Talk to your doctor.

Christopher Iliades
Dr. Chris Iliades is a medical doctor with 20 years of experience in clinical medicine and clinical research. Chris has been a full time medical writer and journalist since 2004. His byline appears in over 1,000 articles online including EverydayHealth, The Clinical Advisor, and Healthgrades. He has also written for print media including Cruising World Magazine, MD News, and The Johns Hopkins Children's Center Magazine. Chris lives with his wife and close to his three children and four grandchildren in the Boston area.

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