Technology has come a long way in recent years, especially with helping women get pregnant. Couples who used to have no choice but to adopt to expand their families can now undergo treatments, or find and hire a surrogate. So it’s not surprising that women have a lot of questions about this whole process!
Women are so aware that the “biological clock” begins ticking before they're even born. Since society focuses so strongly on motherhood- and womanhood practically revolves around it- whether or not to have children is a big question on many women’s minds.
The whole process involves multiple doctor visits, medications, potentially uncomfortable side effects, and a big bill whether you have insurance or not. The entire process can be emotionally draining and for some women, it can even be dangerous. But freezing her future babies can relieve a lot of worries that women experience, and not just ones related to whether or not they desire motherhood. The truth is, it’s not the right choice for everyone, but there are many compelling reasons that might make a woman choose to harvest.
15 The Big C Word
Cancer is a devastating disease that claims untold numbers of lives every year. However, many people undergo chemotherapy, radiation, lifestyle and diet changes, and many other interventions and beat cancer for good. The bad news is, cancer treatments can affect both men’s and women’s fertility. According to cancer.org, it’s difficult to predict whether a woman will remain fertile after chemo.
A list of at least fourteen different chemotherapy medications are considered most likely to cause egg damage and infertility, but at least eleven others present a low risk.
Still, cancer.org notes that the younger you are when undergoing treatment, the higher the odds you’ll retain fertility. Conversely, girls who have chemo before puberty or young women who get their periods back after treatment are at risk for early menopause, which puts an end to ovarian activity.
14 Family History Hints
Remember when Angelina Jolie revealed that she was undergoing a double mastectomy, even though she didn’t have cancer? E Online reported that Angelina’s family history of breast and ovarian cancer led to her risks for those cancers coming in at 87 and 50 percent, respectively. By having her breasts removed, Angelina said her cancer risked dropped to just 5 percent. She also said that she plans to have her ovaries removed, too.
For the same reason that many women choose to undergo preemptive surgery to defend against cancer, some women choose to harvest their eggs as a precaution. Though Angelina already has three biological children (her other three are adopted), she may still opt to save some of her eggs for future attempts at pregnancy. Thankfully, today’s technology allows for moms to have babies via gestational surrogate, so moms who want genetic ties can have them.
13 Thirty-Something Mom
It’s commonly understood that the older a woman gets, the lower her chances are of conceiving and carrying a healthy pregnancy to term. Technically, “advanced maternal age” starts at 35, which to most of us feels like an insult because 35 is definitely not nearing geriatric age. Still, studies show that fertility begins to decline around age 35, Evidence-Based Birth explains.
There aren’t any clear indicators as to why- even healthy moms with no prior diseases or conditions have more trouble getting pregnant than under-35’s.
One study showed that women under age 35 got pregnant more easily with IVF than older women, so there are still no guarantees even if moms save their eggs. However, for women who are nearing forty but aren’t ready for kids yet, saving some eggs can help ease their minds since they’ll have a “reserve” if IVF is needed.
12 Pregnancy Goals
Whether a woman is trying to get pregnant with little success or she’s unsure about future plans, the primary perk of saving eggs is that you can always choose to have kids later. Maybe you struggle to get pregnant and haven’t yet decided whether you want to risk another pregnancy loss or disappointment, or maybe you know that your partner is infertile so you’ll need to find a sperm donor.
Whatever the circumstance, saving eggs at a facility rather than in your ovaries ensures that they’ll still be “fresh” when the time comes to fertilize them, and for moms who use donors, a Petri-dish-grown embryo is a necessity anyway. Beyond the basics of having the choice to have a baby later, saving eggs for IVF has other benefits, too- keep reading for more.
11 No Genetics Roulette
While most couples opt out of genetic counseling, people with a history of genetic disorders in their families often worry about having a child that could be born with a debilitating or life-threatening condition. Fox News reported that birth defects caused by genetic disorders affect one in every 33 births in the United States.
But there is a way to avoid a tragic diagnosis.
Doctors can perform pre-implantation genetic screenings on embryos to determine whether they’re affected by serious conditions,
one doctor told the news station. For moms who set aside some eggs, they can have their genetic material tested before undergoing IVF. But these aren’t “designer babies,” doctors say- rather, they’re eliminating diseases that have plagued generations of families. Plus, taking this route lowers moms’ miscarriage rates and helps couples get pregnant faster.
10 Pick And Choose
Although Chrissy Teigen and husband John legend sparked criticism when they announced they’d selected their daughter’s sex back in 2016, the classy mom took to Twitter to explain the process to uninformed followers. As Vogue explains, IVF specialists are able to screen for genetic diseases in embryos, but an unintended side effect is that these tests also show the sex of the baby.
It’s a little confusing because the article calls the process “gender selection,” which shows obliviousness to the differences between sex and gender, but doctors agree there’s a fine line when it comes to morality in this situation. Still, Chrissy and John announced they were expecting a son- the result of Chrissy’s remaining embryo from their IVF trials- and that they hadn’t “discarded” any others in the process.
9 Medical Miracles Made
While choosing your child’s sex based on arbitrary longings for a son or daughter seems morally wrong, choosing their sex based on a genetic predisposition to a serious disease turns the whole argument on its head.
Through genetic pre-screening, doctors can determine whether an embryo carries genes for serious diseases.
But, according to Love to Know Genealogy, some diseases are sex-specific, putting either boys or girls at higher risk.
If your family has a history of Red-green color blindness, for example, you’ll know that boys are more susceptible to the disease. If mom has eggs in reserve, she can have growing embryos checked for sex and choose which embryo to implant, Conversely, if there’s a family history of ovarian cancer, opting for a son may prove the safer and smarter choice.
8 All The Single Ladies
Plenty of strong single women wind up parenting solo, whether by choice or circumstance. But some are waiting for the right partner to come along before starting a family. They might be focused on their careers first, not feel emotionally ready to carry a child, or are debating whether to adopt or take the biological route.
Whatever the case, single women can create their own backup plans by saving some eggs for later. Even if they never meet the perfect partner and decide to go it alone, they’ll have eggs on standby in case IVF or other means of getting pregnant are needed. There’s also the potential for same-sex partners to have children together via one mom’s stored and fertilized eggs, whether the other mom wants to carry her own egg to birth or not.
7 Mom Boss First
It’s widely accepted that many women in modern times are delaying pregnancy to work on their careers. While I personally take issue with a society that thinks a woman should do anything other than what she chooses, the truth is that many women feel like they have to focus on their careers to keep up with men in their fields.
Women may desperately want children or not, but either way, they still have to work and career momentum tends to slow when babies arrive.
It starts with maternity leave if you’re lucky enough to have it, but there’s also the perception that women, particularly those with children but also women in general, are too emotional to handle on-the-job stress. While the truth may lie more in society’s unwillingness to let women be both nurturers and mom bosses, it can’t hurt to save eggs if you’re not ready for motherhood yet.
6 Eggs In The Basket
More than 200,000 women in the US deal with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) every year. PCOS involves enlarged ovaries, cysts, and can cause heavy periods and painful side effects. Some women have irregular periods while others stop having periods at all. Women with PCOS can also struggle to get pregnant and deliver a healthy, full-term baby.
But studies have shown that women with PCOS can have adverse effects when undergoing IVF because of the potential for their bodies to react to hormones by creating more fluid in the ovaries. Futurity reported that one study found that women with PCOS who used “frozen” embryos had a higher chance of successful pregnancy than those who used “fresh” embryos. Essentially, retrieving a woman’s eggs and implanting them while the body is coming down from the hormone and medication highs is more dangerous than waiting until everything “cools off,” then implanting.
5 To Be Or Not To Be
At any age, it’s normal for moms to be unsure whether they want to have children. Unfortunately, society’s annoying reference to the “ticking biological clock” is technically scientifically accurate. Older moms do have higher risks when it comes to pregnancy, especially if they’re first-time moms. But freezing eggs at any age stops the clock. Theoretically, the younger your eggs are when you freeze them, the higher quality they’ll be.
While freezing your eggs may sound straightforward, it involves multiple medical procedures and some hefty storage fees.
Plus, according to PBS, there have not been any studies yet on how long the eggs stay good. While medical professionals agree that the younger the eggs the higher the odds of pregnancy success, no one has seen the results of a 20-year-frozen embryo being implanted.
4 Cashing In
If you’ve seen the skeevy-looking ads asking young women to donate their eggs, you already know there’s money to be had when it comes to putting your ovaries to work. In fact, the New York-based Center for Human Reproduction’s website claims that egg donors earn between $8,000 and $14,000 per egg retrieval depending on how many eggs you produce.
While many women have objections to their genetic material going to who knows where some don’t have any intention of having kids themselves so decide to get rid of the goods. Whatever your motivation, eggs have to be harvested and put on ice before they can go to a recipient family. That said, depending on how many eggs you donate, you might have multiple recipients using your genes to grow their families.
3 For Science
If thinking about your genetic offspring anonymously scampering about the world makes you queasy, there are other ways to get paid for your spare eggs. For example, the Bedford Research Foundation uses human egg donations for science. Stem cell research benefits from donor eggs, though Bedford doesn’t explain exactly what they do with the eggs or what happens afterward.
However, they do highlight that there are “emotional risks” to egg donation, such as women experiencing hormone-induced depression and stress from daily injections and specifically-timed doctor’s visits.
Therefore, “donor recruitment” involves in-depth interviews, consent forms, and assessments before scientists will harvest your eggs. They also note that “several months of consideration” should be had before making a decision- which is more than what most egg donor websites request of their donors.
2 A Tragic Backstory
While it’s not something anyone wants to think about, there’s always the possibility that any of us could die at any time. From freak accidents to undiagnosed diseases, tons of dangers lurk in our world. For many couples, family planning is the center of a new marriage, and having children can become a full-time pursuit. Whether you have trouble conceiving or not, getting pregnant and growing your family is a huge undertaking.
As many times as the trope has been paraded through soap operas, you can save your (and your partner’s) genetic material so that you can still have children if one of you passes away. For women, that means saving eggs cryogenically, and for men that means reserving sperm. If you pass away, you can stipulate that your partner can use the genetic material to have a child.
1 Viability Variables
Unfortunately, it seems like every woman has either experienced miscarriage personally or knows someone who has. Although there are some predetermining factors for miscarriage, it often happens without rhyme or reason. Some women experience repeated miscarriages in the pursuit of building their families- but what if there was a way to avoid all that heartache?
Like the PCOS example, frozen-then-thawed eggs often help moms fall pregnant better than fresh eggs.
For moms who experience multiple miscarriages, IVF and artificial insemination may be in the cards anyway. Fortunately, extracting and preserving eggs also enables doctors to later examine developing embryos for defects. It sounds harsh but choosing a healthy embryo can mean the difference between another tragic loss and a live baby at the end of pregnancy. Doctors can essentially tell whether an embryo is viable before even implanting it, upping mom’s odds of carrying to term.