Egg Freezing: Not Always a Sure Thing

By Leslie Schreiber

Most coverage of egg cryopreservation extols the inherent promise made to women who want to delay having children in order to focus on their careers. What this coverage doesn’t always recognize is the actuality that egg cryopreservation is not as sunny and simple as the fertility clinic brochures make it out to be.

The reality of egg cryopreservation is that it is by no means a guarantee for future fertility. According to an article—and a fascinating and informative online series—in The Washington Post:

On average, a woman freezing 10 eggs at age 36 has a 30 to 60 percent chance of having a baby with them, according to published studies. The odds are higher for younger women, but they drop precipitously for older women. They also go up with the number of eggs stored (as does the cost). But the chance of success varies so wildly by individual that reproductive specialists say it’s nearly impossible to predict the outcome based on aggregate data.[1]

In other words, not all eggs are created equal, so the more harvested, the better the odds. In addition to each gamete’s physical particularities, frozen eggs face external risks, as well. Improper storage or shipment can destroy a woman’s egg supply; and five to 10 percent of frozen eggs don’t survive the thawing process.[2]

This is not to say that women shouldn’t freeze their eggs for future use. There is still a 30 to 60 percent chance of success. But the takeaway should be that relying on frozen eggs to create a family later on is not a sure thing.

[1] Cha, A., “The Struggle to Conceive with Frozen Eggs,” Washington Post (Jan. 27, 2018), available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/01/27/feature/she-championed-the-idea-that-freezing-your-eggs-would-free-your-career-but-things-didnt-quite-work-out/?utm_term=.2afa12c649b9 (last visited Feb. 4, 2018).

[2] Id.

2018-02-06T18:15:14+00:00