On the Front Lines of Fertility
The pandemic changed everything, didn’t it? It impacted the way we work, play, socialize, worship, and shop. It even changed when and how people are growing their families.
How the Pandemic Changed Dating & Family Planning
According to the Pew Research Institute, 7 in 10 people in the dating space said their dating lives were “not going well” during the height of the pandemic.
Many millennials decided to delay parenthood due to pandemic-related factors (social distancing, mental health, uncertain economic times).
Egg retrievals have increased by 39% in the US and up to 50% in the UK from pre-pandemic levels.
Some believed that the lockdowns would lead to a baby boom, but in fact, the early stages of the pandemic saw more of a baby bust.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the rising popularity of egg retrievals, and what your options are if this is something you’ve considered.
Am I a good candidate for freezing my eggs?
There are many reasons someone may wish to freeze their eggs. Traditionally, things like autoimmune disease, endometriosis, impending cancer treatments (that would likely impact the ability to get pregnant), and IVF preparation were the most common reasons for freezing eggs.
The pandemic also brought about the rise in what’s been called “social” or elective egg freezing. Women looking to postpone motherhood for educational, career, or relationship reasons have the option to freeze their eggs with the intention of increasing their chances at pregnancy later in life (more on this in a minute!).
If you’re interested in freezing your eggs, I always recommend speaking with your doctor first to determine if you’re a good candidate. Some factors to consider include:
Age: It’s recommended to freeze your eggs before you turn 40 to ensure the highest likelihood of pregnancy when you’re ready. The optimal time tends to be in your late 20s or early 30s. Egg retrieval after 40 is possible, but the quantity and quality of eggs diminishes over time and some clinics may not do it.
Hormone Health: Testing (like the anti-mullerian hormone test) can be done to determine the quantity of your egg reserves.
Lifestyle: Avoiding smoking of any kind, limiting alcohol, maintaining a health weight, preventing STDs, and limiting exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, BPAs, heavy metals, and chemicals can all support better egg health and pregnancy outcomes.
If I freeze my eggs, is it guaranteed that I’ll get pregnant?
Although it may seem that freezing your eggs is the insurance policy you’re looking for, it’s not a guarantee of a successful pregnancy. Data around egg freezing is difficult to collect, but we do know that the earlier you freeze your eggs, the better your chances of a successful pregnancy. This is due to both the health of the eggs as well as the quantity that can be retrieved.
What about the 30 year old embryos?
Egg freezing is a newer technology, and while advances are quickly being made, the chances of a successful pregnancy with a frozen embryo are higher than that with just a frozen egg. Embryos can go through more thorough testing prior to freezing, so the chances of a robust embryo are more likely.
If you wish to freeze your eggs but do not have a partner with which to fertilize it, sperm donation is also an option. You might feel like that’s a difficult decision to make before you’ve met your partner, but it’s an option to weigh on your path to parenthood. A doctor and fertility coach can help you navigate the pros and cons of the decision.
Other Factors to Consider
Cost: Although some companies have insurance policies that cover egg freezing, it is typically an “out of pocket” expense that can often prevent people from pursuing it as an option. The average cost for egg freezing is $10,000-$15,000, which doesn’t include thawing or in vitro fertilization.
Risks: Although egg retrieval is generally considered safe, there are some risks involved with the process. These include pelvic and abdominal pain after the procedure as well as potential injury to organs near the ovaries.