Would You Freeze Your Eggs?
May 15, 2012
© Sarah Preston Gorenstein
It’s not cheap, but if someone were willing to help you with the cost—say, your parents—would you consider doing it, without a husband in sight? According to this New York Times article, parents “investing” in their grandchildren this way is not uncommon these days.
I was a single girl in my early 30s and, frankly, the thought never occurred to me (or my parents). As egg freezing becomes more common, though, more parents are stepping in to help their daughters plan for their future families with egg freezing. “The technology to freeze a woman’s delicate eggs to be used later, when the eggs being released by her ovaries may no longer be viable, has improved sharply over the past decade,” writes Elissa Gootman, the author of the article.
“I see these patients come in, and they’re with two elderly people, and I’m like, ‘What the hey?’” Dr. Schoolcraft, founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, said. Because the cost is so high—from $8,000 to $18,000—the extra financial support is often necessary, and welcome. One patient’s mother called it a “gift of love.”
At our Mother’s Day dinner on Sunday night, my 87-year-old great cousin Marcy—she’s like a grandmother to me now—suggested I freeze my eggs. I wasn’t in the room at the time—she said it to my husband and sister-in-law. “Tell Sarah she needs to freeze her eggs…she’s going to have a hard time having more children at her age.” She’s almost 88! She doesn’t know that I have frozen embryos already, after going through an egg retrieval last September during my IVF cycle. Neither I, nor my husband, were offended by the comment—it gave us both a good chuckle.
And hey, she’s not wrong about the age thing (I'm 38).
I know this is going to sound hypocritical, but I’m not sure I’d spend the money freezing my 38-year-old eggs if I were single—it’s a big, costly gamble. But I guess I see it differently through the lens of infertility.
The bottom line is: There are no guarantees. I have 12 “perfect quality” frozen embryos left. But it’s debatable how perfect they really are…I was 37 when I had my egg retrieval, which isn’t exactly your peak fertile age. From what the lab can see through a microscope they look great; but without further testing we don’t know how great they actually are (further testing costs in the ballpark of $6,000, something we haven’t chosen to invest in yet).
That’s the thing about freezing your eggs—it’s not a sure thing. (Nor is IVF, or anything you go through for infertility.) It makes a lot more sense doing it when you’re younger, but can you imagine making that decision in your 20s, when it would actually make sense to freeze your eggs because the quality is much better? I can’t. Women don’t usually start to panic about their window of opportunity for kids closing until their fertility has drastically declined…which is why it’s so important you talk to your OB about it earlier in life, when you still have time to do something about it. (And why your OB should be talking to you about it!)
As everything else with fertility, it’s complicated.
Would you freeze your eggs, if your parents offered to help you pay for it? Would your age play a role in that decision? Would your relationship status?