Will I ever have children? When? If you’d like to have kids someday, egg freezing may be an option. Here are top 10 things you need to know.
Fertility Logia: Egg Freezing and fertility preservation
Easter is upon us and we’re ready for some of our most glorious days in our Greek Orthodox Church. April 16, 2017 is Easter for both Greeks and non-Greeks, and filled with the 3 F’s: Family, Faith, and Food. In the U.S. and in our Windy City – Chicago, we share Greek and American traditions to help shape our world.
These traditions of our religion and our family remind us of where we are in life. Each of us is in a unique place life. Some are yiayias and papous. Some are newlyweds. Some are looking for the right person with whom to share life. For women, time is not on our side in regard to fertility, and if you aren’t ready to start having a family right now, you need to consider where you are in life and what family building choices that you have. The basket of eggs that you were given at birth begins to quickly empty. Therefore, you must contemplate freezing eggs if you are not ready for pregnancy. To have options, the egg hunt is not just about Easter. You do have options! This month, we discuss the top 10 things you need to know about about egg freezing and fertility preservation.
The number of eggs in a woman, based on age. IMAGE: VIOS FERTILITY INSTITUTE
Top 10 questions about egg freezing
Many people have heard of egg freezing, but don’t know what it means or what it entails. Let’s look at the top 10 questions about egg freezing and what you need to know. It could be an option if now is not the time to start a family.
- How many eggs does a woman have?
The baby girl growing in her mother’s womb has 5-6 million eggs. By the time she is born, 80% of the eggs have dissolved leaving her with 2-3 million eggs to have for her life. Every egg is stored in a small water balloon called a follicle cyst living deep in the ovary’s savings account of eggs. Your egg is as old as you and your eggs, and eggs will continue to age with you, but egg age is not equivalent to your chronological age. As an analogy, a dog year is 7:1 human years and egg year is 2:1 human years. This means, at 40 years old, the egg is like an 80 year old person. At some point, the eggs begin to lose their zest and energy, resulting in a lower chance that the egg will make a baby.
- What choices do I have to save my fertility?
Up until recently there was no solution for this except to get busy and try for pregnancy. But, what if you haven’t yet found Mr. Right? What if you are still in pursuit of higher education and not ready for pregnancy? The answer: Freeze your eggs.
- What makes egg freezing possible?
Freezing FAST: Vitrification technology of eggs allows the delicate egg to survive being frozen. The old way of freezing slowly created ice crystals and freezer burn so by the time eggs were thawed they no longer worked to make an embryo. Two important events changed everything. Italy banned freezing fertilized eggs and so the Italian doctors searched for what to do with extra eggs they had from IVF. Japan started vitrifying or fast freezing eggs and found it worked. Voila! One group had a need; another group had a solution.
- What is the first step to take to freeze eggs?
We can help! Come to Vios Center for Egg Health Excellence and check your eggs. With a simple blood test and easy ultrasound, you can understand your egg health. Start there. Be informed and know where your eggs stand. Go to our website, and register for your egg health test, ‘Vios Pulse’, and let’s meet.
- What is the process like?
To begin, for two weeks, you’ll prepare your body with medication. The medicine is a shot that makes your eggs grow. Exclusively at Vios Center for Egg Health Excellence, you have the option to have a nurse help you each day with your injection at home (with qualifying insurance). We watch the eggs grow, and then eggs are gently removed with an office procedure called Egg Collection. It’s performed by a Vios doctor, using an ultrasound. The eggs are immediately frozen. That day you rest at home and in 2 weeks your next period starts and you’re back to your regular cycle.
- What are risks or concerns about egg freezing?
It requires a procedure with light anesthesia. There is a small needle used to draw out eggs like when you have blood drawn with a needle, but you are asleep so it does not hurt. This is not a 100% guarantee of a baby. In our lab, eggs have a 90% chance of surviving the freeze and then work as good as “fresh” eggs in young women. Babies born from frozen eggs seem to be as healthy as from fresh eggs. The technology is young and we continue to learn about how to make it work better. At this time, it does not appear to have long-term side effects. Some women will do more than 1 egg collection to get 15 eggs. The older a woman is the less chance it is to work.
- What is the ideal age to freeze eggs?
Ideal age is late 20’s or early 30’s. But women can freeze eggs in their 20s, 30s, and even at 40. After 40, the chance of eggs surviving and making a baby will decrease. So what should you do? If you’re considering it, freeze NOW. The longer you wait, the less chance it will work.
- How many eggs do I need to collect?
Somewhere in the range of 10-20 eggs is ideal. At Vios Center for Egg Health Excellence, we strive to collect 15 eggs. To give you a good chance that in the future they will work, a good number of eggs is important.
- How much does it cost?
The items include the pre-testing, the egg collection process, the medicine, and the freezing, and storage. For spring 2017, mention WindyCity Greek, and you’ll receive the special price of $5000 for the egg collection process.
- What if I have a partner or husband?
If you have a partner or spouse, then freeze fertilized eggs, called embryos. They work even better!
Is egg freezing for you?
Easter time is a great time to collect your eggs. So get on with your with dreams! Moreover, remember you have 2 choices: get pregnant now, or freeze your eggs. Let us help you determine if egg freezing is right for you.
Kalo Pascha! Christos Anesti!
Angeline N. Beltsos, MD is CEO and Medical Director of Vios Fertility Institute. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI), practicing medicine since 1991. Dr. Beltsos is also the Clinical Research Division Director of Vios and participates in a number of research projects and scientific publications. She has received numerous awards in teaching and has been honored as “Top Doctor” from Castle Connelly for several years. She is a popular speaker, both nationally and internationally, and a frequent media resource on the topic of infertility. She is the executive chairperson for the Midwest Reproductive Symposium International, an international conference of fertility experts. Dr. Beltsos is also a contributor to Thrive Global.
As the REI Division Education Director for the Obstetrics and Gynecology residency programs of Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Lutheran General Hospital, and St. Joseph’s Hospital Chicago, Dr. Beltsos helps educate future OB/GYN doctors. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Illinois at Chicago.
More Fertility Logia from Dr. Angeline Beltsos, MD: