Once upon a time…
Many fairy tales begin that way. “Once upon a time” a girl could only dream of getting an education, having a career, exploring opportunities, seeing the world, pursuing creativity. Career opportunities for most women were once basically limited to motherhood and child-rearing. Perhaps one of the most exciting changes over the past century and into the present is the evolution of women’s roles in society and the workplace. However, those roles do not negate the basic desires to have children and raise a family. And this “career path” is still extremely desirable and valuable. Women today face a very real dilemma: how does one balance all of these needs and desires? When is the best time in one’s life to have babies? An individual woman’s natural fertility is at its peak during the same age intervals that, if women so choose, are necessarily spent obtaining that education, building that career, and exploring the world’s opportunities.
If only there was a way to preserve fertility for the future!
Sounds like another fairy tale wish. Well, there is a way to preserve fertility. Elective oocyte cryopreservation is a technique that has matured to the point that it is now available to women who want to dampen the din of that loudly ticking “biological clock”. This option allows women to choose when they want to build their family without sacrificing their chances due to advancing age. By having a means of “hedging their bets” or having a “back-up plan” in case they need it in the future, women who choose this option report feeling empowered making the life choices that are best for them. Attitudes among women toward the idea of egg freezing have evolved over the past 10 years along with the technology. It is now viewed very positively. More and more women are making a proactive decision to freeze their eggs at a young age, when the odds of future success are best. And the marketplace is keeping pace with them: there are now several companies whose business is egg banking and making financing available.
Of course, it is not just a simple matter of throwing some eggs in the freezer. What’s more, the process can be expensive. The technique mirrors that of fertility therapy via in vitro fertilization. And the chances of successful conception down the road, just like everything else in human biology, are not 100%. An interesting tool is available to illustrate these odds: http://i-fertility.net/probability-calc. In it, you will see that a woman who cryopreserves 32 oocytes via vitrification at age 21 has a 62.1% chance of conception later, no matter what age she may be at that time. The value of women in society and the workplace is such that progressive employers vying for them are making coverage for fertility preservation and treatment available as a benefit option. Facebook and Apple recently announced they will cover the costs of fertility preservation for employees. (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/perk-facebook-apple-now-pay-women-freeze-eggs-n225011)
Here at Fertility Answers, our lab is state-of-the-art and has been employing cutting edge technology to successfully cryopreserve embryos and oocytes since 2001; vitrification has been used exclusively since 2009. Egg freezing was initially considered an experimental technique and was recommended only for women who were facing potentially damaging treatment for cancer or other medical diseases. Since 2012, however, the “experimental” label has been removed and the technique is now available to any woman who wants to preserve her fertility at its peak. No fairy tales here!
…and they all lived happily ever after.
— Dr. Susan Conway