The basics of egg freezing

What is egg freezing?

The quality of a woman’s eggs decreases as she approaches her menopausal transition (signaling the end of her fertility). While she would likely be able to gestate a child at this later point, her lower quality eggs could limit viability, and could result in birth defects and/or miscarriage. She might also start to ovulate irregularly as she ages, making conception difficult. By freezing eggs when she is younger, a woman can be assured that she has a supply of healthy eggs ready when she needs them.

Some women choose to freeze their eggs (also called oocyte cryopreservation) for the purpose of postponing the process of bearing a child. They might do this in light of a devastating medical diagnosis (i.e. cancer), in order to focus on their career, or because they have not yet met their ideal mate.

For example, a 32-year-old woman who chooses to freezeher eggs and then use them when she is 40 will be approaching the conception process with the eggs of a 32-year-old. As a result, she will have a much better change of conceiving, having a successful pregnancy, and delivering a healthy baby.

Is freezing eggs covered by the US insurance or UK’s NHS?

In the US, IVF and egg freezing procedures are not covered by health care plans. If a woman wants to undergo any fertility treatments, they will be at her own expense – and the expenses are high.

In the UK, many fertility treatments are indeed covered by the NHS, including at least 2 rounds of IVF. That said, egg freezing is not usually covered by the NHS (unless you are undergoing a medically necessary treatment that could affect your fertility, such as chemotherapy). If you want to have them assess your personal circumstances, you need to contact your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) directly.

If the answer is no, you will have to go with a private clinic, with prices starting at £3800 for just one cycle. This does not include necessary medications (needed to boost hormone levels for egg harvesting) and future egg storage.

Some companies are insuring egg freezing!

After Apple announced plans to insure and cover their female employees’ egg freezing procedures in 2015, more and more people are talking about eggs. Should all companies offer this coverage? Do they have ulterior motives in encouraging women to put off having babies? While it is great that working women have more options than ever, it is important to remember that freezing your eggs does not guarantee that you will be able to conceive or gestate a baby later in life. Hopefully these companies don’t try to dangle the prospect of freezing eggs as a way to prevent women from taking maternity leave earlier in their careers.

A few things to consider before freezing your eggs

If you are already in a heterosexual partnership that you foresee as permanent and you want more time before conception, it is better to freeze embryos. These have a higher success rate, and also have the benefit of younger sperm!

Remember, if you are already over the age of 37, there is very little benefit to freezing your eggs. Your eggs are already in decline, and you will have better success with trying to conceive now. Egg freezing is usually a better option for women in their 20s or early 30s. That said, you should always consult with your GP on a case by case basis.

Are you interested in preserving your fertility by freezing your eggs? Does your company offer you this option? We would love to hear from you at [email protected]

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