Get answers to frequently asked questions about egg freezing and fertility health
Question: When should women start thinking about their fertility health?
Answer: In 1980, the average age when a woman had her first child was 22. Today, the average age of a first-time mother has risen to 26, with about 20 percent of women waiting to have a child until after they are 35 years old. Your fertility health will start declining in your late 20s and drop significantly around age 35. Around 14 percent of women will experience problems trying to get pregnant or carrying a baby – ie. one in seven couples struggle with infertility — so if you know you want to protect your fertility health, it’s a great idea to develop good habits now.
Question: Can certain lifestyle factors affect my fertility health?
Answer: Yes. While advanced age is one of the top causes of female infertility, lifestyle factors also play a role in fertility health. Keeping stress under control; preventing sexually transmitted diseases; avoiding smoking, substance abuse, excessive drinking, and ingesting no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day; exercising moderately; maintaining a healthy weight; and taking a multivitamin with folic acid are all measures you can take now to support good fertility health later.
Question: Are there any tests that can predict the health of my eggs?
Answer: Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Those eggs die off rapidly as you age – at a different rate for each person. Fortunately, there are tests that can provide you and your physician a snapshot of your ovarian reserve, or the number of eggs you have left. The most common are a transvaginal ultrasound performed right after menstruation to evaluate your ovaries and a simple blood test performed on the 3rd day of your menstrual cycle. The ultrasound examination evaluates your antral follicle count, ie. the number of small follicles (egg sacs) present in your ovaries. The blood test assesses levels of certain hormones, such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH). These tests can help your physician determine whether you have enough good eggs to last until you are ready to conceive or, if your count is low, whether you should explore options like freezing your eggs now to preserve your fertility later.
Question: I know I want to have children someday, but what if I haven’t met Mr. Right yet or I’m focused on my career right now? What are my options?
Answer: Fertility preservation options are available to those who cannot or are not ready to try to conceive. The best option for a young woman looking to pause her biological clock is egg freezing using vitrification — an ultra-rapid process during which liquids turn into a glass-like solid state. Embryo freezing, available to couples and women using donor sperm, and ovarian tissue cryopreservation are other ways to preserve fertility.
Question: How does egg freezing work?
Answer: Egg freezing starts with injections of synthetic hormones that stimulate the ovaries to increase the chance that multiple eggs can be collected during a cycle. Mature eggs are then removed and frozen. It has been proven that egg freezing is a successful way to give yourself the gift of time. The process has led to the successful births of more than 5,000 babies, and there is no scientific evidence that has shown a link between egg freezing and an increased risk for developmental or physical disorders in these babies.