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For women who want to have children someday, but are concerned about the impact of their age on their fertility, modern medicine offers an opportunity in the form of egg freezing. But is this difficult, uncertain process worth it? If you are considering freezing your eggs, there are few questions to ask yourself before investing in this expensive procedure.
When do you plan on having children?
Plenty of women have kids in their 30s and infertility problems are unusual before age 35. After that, about one in four women will have trouble getting pregnant, and by age 40, her chances of conceiving are less than 5% per cycle. Ask yourself how likely it is you’ll want to have children in your 40s. Approximately, 19 percent of U.S. women in their early 40s have no children yet. Having eggs on frozen can offer you additional chances to bear children after your declining natural fertility makes it a lot more difficult.
Your age affects the number of eggs & cost
If you are under 35, you don’t need to rush off to the fertility clinic just yet. One exception is if you’re a younger woman who definitely wants kids, and you are pretty sure it can’t happen until your late 30s or 40s—in this case, look into egg freezing sooner rather than later.
The younger you are when you undergo the process, the better quality your eggs will be and you might produce more of them too. That means potentially fewer costly cycles to undergo, and better chances to get pregnant when you try to use them.
If you are 35 or older, and hope to bear any children after age 40—your first or your fifth - freezing your eggs may be a very smart decision.
A study in the journal "Fertility and Sterility" found it was more cost-effective for a woman to freeze her eggs at age 35 and use them to get pregnant in her 40s, rather than try to conceive naturally at that age.
The cost of egg freezing
The full cost of a cycle of oocyte cryopreservation (the medical term for egg freezing) which takes about two weeks, can range from $9,000 to $16,000. This includes pricey medications you’ll probably need to inject yourself with, and numerous clinic visits to assess your hormone levels as the cycle progresses.
It also includes the egg retrieval process, which involves brief sedation and recovery. It does not include the money you will need to thaw and fertilize the eggs and implant the embryos when you are ready to get pregnant.
Many women require more than one cycle to produce the 20 or so eggs experts suggest you should bank for a good chance of a future pregnancy. In addition, you will pay an annual storage fee, usually $350-$1,000, to keep your eggs safely frozen.
How to pay for it
Most health insurance plans do not cover the egg freezing process or annual storage fees, though they may cover some of the tests required and some of the medications. Check with your own plan to understand your benefits.
If you can’t afford to pay for it, some fertility clinics can help you line up financing. Certain healthcare-focused financial institutions offer loans for qualified women who want to freeze their eggs. Average annual interest rates are about 15% and the repayment period can be as long as seven years.
Studies show that women can increase their career earnings by delaying having a baby. In fact, research has found that waiting for just one year longer increased a woman’s lifetime earnings by 10% in some cases.
Which fertility clinic to use
Most fertility clinics do not publish their success rates for egg freezing and subsequent pregnancies, because the procedure is relatively new, and many women have not yet come back for their eggs.
However, you can get a sense of a clinic’s experience and efficacy by checking their IVF results online with the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technoloy.
Ask your friends
If you have any friends or close colleagues who’ve undergone any fertility treatments themselves in your area, ask them if they had a good experience. They may be able to offer the inside scoop on the general ambiance and attitude at a clinic, which can either soothe or stress you during a vulnerable time.
Do what is right for your future
For women approaching 35, who anticipate wanting to give birth in their 40s, egg freezing may make sense if you can find room for it in your budget. Though successful pregnancies from frozen eggs are never guaranteed, having the option can lessen your stress about fertility and let you focus on more important aspects of life, including great careers and healthy relationships.