Answer from: Melvin H. Thornton, Associate Professor
Patients reasons for egg freezing are multiple. First, let’s talk about the medical indications. The obvious first indication will be someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, who can be used treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Cancers such as breast cancer; the medications that are used for the chemotherapy are very toxic to the ovaries. And most women who use treatment to undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment typically will go into early menopause. So anyone diagnosed with cancer, and they’re going to receive chemotherapy radiation therapy should consider freezing their eggs. There are genetic links or disorders called Fragile X, someone may carry a Fragile X premutation. And if you do carry the Fragile X premutation, it’s been shown that you’ll have earlier menopause. So this is an indication for egg freezing. A medical condition such as endometriosis, which requires multiple surgeries on the ovaries, may also lead to earlier menopause due to the decrease in blood supply that happens with these surgeries on the ovaries. This also leads to premature ovarian failure which is an indication for egg freezing.
Other things that are important to consider when you’re thinking about egg freezing are transitioning couples or transitioning person who’s decided they would like to transition from male to female. And it’s important for them to consider sperm freezing or if you’re transitioning from female to male, you want to consider this egg freezing prior to undergoing your transitioning process because… or the surgical process because this can also lead to sterility or loss of eggs. And then the final indication for egg freezing is just someone who decides they want to preserve their fertility for the future. And it’s what we call Social egg freezing.
Is it too late to ever consider freezing your eggs or is it too early? The answer is no. There’s the ideal time to consider freezing your eggs and that would be of course prior to medical treatment at any age. But for someone considering social freezing, you should consider freezing eggs in your early 30s. However, you can freeze eggs in your 20s, you can freeze eggs in your late 30s, early 40s. But we have to remember that the age and the quality of the egg that goes into the freezer is what’s going to come out in the future. So someone in their early 40s and they’re considering freezing their eggs you can definitely freeze your eggs. But the success rates may be very low because of the age and the quality of the eggs that were frozen. I’ve had patients who are 45 years of age, I’ve actually had a young lady who was on my schedule to be seen for this week who’s 50 and she wants to consider freezing her eggs. So in those cases, we discuss the process, discuss the pros and cons, and let the woman or the patient herself decide what she would like to do as long as she understands the risks and benefits.
Answer from: Maria José Mendiola, MD, MSc in Human Genetics, MSc in Science Communication, ObGyn
Answer from: Bárbara Silvera Gijón, Embriologist
You might consider egg freezing if:
- You have a condition or circumstance that can affect your fertility. These might include, autoimmune diseases such as lupus, and gender diversity, such as being transgender.
- You need treatment for cancer or another illness that can affect your ability to get pregnant. Certain medical treatments — such as radiation or chemotherapy, some medications used for breast cancer are very toxic for the ovaries — can harm your fertility. Egg freezing before treatment might enable you to have biological children later.
- You’re undergoing in vitro fertilisation. When undergoing in vitro fertilisation, some people prefer egg freezing to embryo freezing for religious or ethical reasons.
- You wish to preserve younger eggs now for future use. Freezing eggs at a younger age might help you get pregnant when you’re ready.
- Genetically disorders, like fragile X, mutation can have an earlier menopause
- Medical conditions such as endometriosis which affects the quality of the eggs and requires surgeries.
- Patients with a low AMH and they still don’t want to be mothers.
Anyone who is included in this group is likely to preserve their fertility
When should I freeze my oocytes?
Egg freezing has been a hot topic recently. Since the egg vitrification method (special freezing) has been developed, it is now easier than ever to preserve your oocytes so you can use them later in an IVF cycle. Egg freezing is beneficial and recommended in certain cases but it is not always a solution for every patient.
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