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Should I Freeze My Eggs?

For so many parents, the biggest consideration when planning on having a baby is the timing. Career breaks, relationships, finances, and co-parenting could be at odds with your fertility window.

As we age, the possibility of conceiving reduces from our mid-thirties, as our eggs naturally begin to decline in both quantity and quality.

Time pressure is something a lot of potential parents struggle with. Egg freezing could help to facilitate the chance of conception at a later date.

The process can go hand-in-hand with egg donation, something that may resonate highly with you, or something which might not work for you.

Let’s unpack the pros and cons of it all.

What we’ll be looking into:

  • How common is egg freezing?
  • How should I talk about egg freezing?
  • What is freeze-and-share and why might I consider it?
  • Important things to consider about your egg freezing or donation journey.
  • A reminder that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fertility!

How common is egg-freezing?

One option that has risen in popularity recently, according to a 2023 report from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), is the process of egg- and embryo-freezing.

Over the pandemic despite temporary closures between 2019 and 2021, there was a reported 64% rise in the number of cycles of egg freezing and storage. Clinics were still open to urgent fertility preservation. Post-pandemic, the number of cycles are continuing to rise.

Egg freezing also offers an option to many who are undecided in what their future holds, in terms of childbirth. According to the London Egg Bank, only 6% of those who froze their eggs returned to utilise them.

Breaking the barriers around egg-freezing and storage

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma around anything other than what is considered to be natural conception, even today.

This can affect women’s mental health, relationships with family, and even their treatment at work. If an employer assumes a woman will want to take maternity leave, she might be seen as a less valuable employee. We have discussed fertility rights in the work place in more detail here.

Therefore, it can be incredibly daunting to speak about this situation. It is important to empower yourself with all the correct knowledge before approaching the topic.

People may not have all the information that you have, simply because the understanding of fertility can be quite limited for a lot of people, especially if they have never investigated it themselves.

Physician Joshua Klein from New York’s Extend Fertility states: “This lack of awareness directly fuels the anxiety and fear that often surrounds conversations around fertility, age and family planning.”

If you find yourself needing to approach this conversation, you can find ways to tackle it here.

Things to consider on your journey

If you feel strongly about extending your fertility it is important to know the medical facts.

Egg freezing is by no means a guaranteed solution to the problem of decreasing fertility. However, according to the London Egg Bank, there is a 93% egg-thaw survival rate. Additionally, a reported 70%* of women who came back to use their eggs at a later stage completed treatment with a live birth.

The numbers are good, so what are the considerations?

It is important to note that the younger the egg is when frozen, the higher the chance of success you have. This is not intended to apply pressure to your situation. But if you are younger than 35 it is helpful to know that in recent years there have been more women in their early forties having children than ever before.

Still, egg quality is a factor that affects everyone with eggs. We all have viable eggs, but over time, the number of non-viable eggs increases.

When thinking about egg-freezing during a fertility journey, it is empowering to know where you stand with this from the start. You might want to discuss the subject with your partner or someone else first so that you don’t need to go at it alone. Klein says that this can strengthen relationships, and put partners on common ground. 

Next, it will be recommended to undergo a fertility assessment or an Anti-Mullerian Hormone Test (AMH test) to gain an in depth understanding of the quality of your eggs. This will stand you in good stead and put you in an empowered position to choose your next steps alongside the professional advice of your fertility specialist or GP.

Also, it is important to remember that men have a ‘biological clock’ too. The weight of fertility burdens should not rest solely on women’s shoulders. If in a heterosexual relationship, there is no harm at all in both partners undergoing fertility treatments if you feel that children are in your future together.

What is freeze-and-share?

There is another side to the egg-freezing coin, and that is the gift that comes with having healthy and usable eggs.

Egg donation is the process by which women have eggs frozen and later donated to those who cannot conceive on their own. Sometimes, when undergoing egg freezing, there might be a choice to opt in to egg donation too.

The HFEA endorses an organisation called abc IVF. Their mission is to make IVF as accessible as possible, for anybody who desires it. Organisations like abc can even act as an alternative, more cost effective private option if you have been refused IVF treatment on the NHS.

Their ‘freeze and share’ scheme might be an option worth considering if you are worried about your finances.

What are the barriers to egg donation?

Of course, this is not something that everybody wants to do. And there is no shame in feeling uncertain about the idea either. No one can make choices about your body, that responsibility should lay with you and only you.

Additionally, it is important to remember that a lot of different people don’t have the option to donate or receive eggs, for a lot of different cultural, personal, and medical reasons.

Unfortunately, as with a lot of areas in women’s health, and something that we here at Kari Health are aiming to reduce, there is a data gap with egg donation which deters people from considering the option. Whilst targeted social media ads, which reach so many young women, offer attractive short-term advantages to doing this, such as financial reimbursement, there is a lack of reported long-term health effects purely because there is a lack of long-term health studies looking at the procedure.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach

At Kari Health it is our mission to help individuals make personal choices about their bodies and their health.

Understanding this when talking about the pros and cons of egg freezing and donation is vital when it comes to making your personal decisions.

We do not condone any kind of pressure that you may experience, however explicit, when it comes to bodily autonomy.

If the topics spoken about throughout this article resonate with you, it is important to know that when it comes to decisions like this, the most crucial first step is education.

Remember, we want to see you thrive in whichever decisions you make for yourself and your body.

*This number is based on a relatively small sample size and is intended to be used as an indicator rather than medical certainty.

This article has been reviewed by our Kari Health Experts and Editorial Board to ensure accuracy and reliability of the information presented. However, please note that the content provided is for informational purposes only and should not replace advice from your medical professional.

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