Working Women Can Have It All: Career, Family, and Taking Control of Your Fertility
We’re excited to share this important post from our BE BOLD Conference partner and sponsor, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Today, women have more options than ever both in their professional lives and with their hopes for family. But we can’t take advantage of these options if we lack the knowledge of them — which is why we’re excited to help educate women in Boston on how to take control of their fertility. Thank you to Randi H. Goldman, M.D. and Janis H. Fox, M.D., for contributing this post.
“I wish someone would have told me I could freeze my eggs. If I’d only known that option was available, maybe I wouldn’t be here today.”
We hope someday we will never hear these words again from women who come into our Infertility Center.
The first time a baby was born from a previously frozen egg was in 1999, when the procedure was still considered experimental. Over the next 13 years, egg-freezing techniques significantly improved. By 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine removed the “experimental” status for egg freezing.
Since that time, the number of women who have elected to freeze their eggs has skyrocketed.
Understand the Options for Preserving Fertility
So why are young, healthy women deciding to take the plunge and freeze their eggs? The answer is (relatively) simple.
They want to preserve their ability to have a biological child in the future.
Many women, single and coupled, are career-oriented. Their circumstances are such that becoming a mom right now is not optimal, but they are concerned about getting older and what that may mean for their fertility.
Should You Freeze Your Eggs?
Who should consider freezing their eggs? It’s is a very personal decision. We know that by the time a woman reaches her early 30s, egg quality and quantity start to decrease.
Beginning around age 35, this decline becomes more rapid. It is reasonable for women in their 30s, who aren’t planning to become pregnant in the next few years, but who want to preserve the option of conceiving in the future, to consider freezing their eggs.
Women contemplating egg freezing should meet with a physician who specializes in fertility and assisted reproduction (preferably one who knows a lot about egg freezing).
A question we often get asked is: “How many eggs do I need to freeze to maximize my chance of having a baby someday?” This, too, is a very personal decision.
Using Technology to Help Make an Informed Decision
Earlier this year, our team at the Brigham and Women’s Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery developed and published an algorithm for personalized counseling surrounding egg freezing, in order to help women with their decision-making.*
Our tool predicts, based on the number of eggs frozen, and the woman’s age at the time they were frozen, her likelihood of delivering one, two, or three babies in the future.
This calculator, for which a website and smartphone app are both currently in development, can help a woman decide how many cycles to undergo, and how many eggs to freeze, based on her personal future childbearing goals. But it’s important to recognize that egg freezing is not a true insurance policy – no number of frozen eggs can guarantee a future baby with certainty.
Getting Help and Further Education Around Your Fertility and Options
We hope to educate as many women as possible about egg freezing, so that they understand and take full advantage of all their options. It pains us to see women who may be past their prime fertility window regret that they didn’t know about egg freezing when they were younger.
Egg freezing may not be for everyone, but we want to afford all women the opportunity to make informed choices about whether preserving their fertility is right for them.
If you would like to talk with a physician at our Center about egg freezing, or any other fertility concerns, please make an appointment by calling 617-732-4222. We’d love to see you and answer any questions you may have!
*Goldman R, Racowsky C, Farland L, Munne S, Ribustello L, Fox J. “Predicting the likelihood of live birth for elective oocyte cryopreservation: A counseling tool for physicians and patients.” Human Reprod. 2017 Feb 6:1-7. PMID: 28166330