Fertility issues and all that goes with it have become front page news with the announcement that Facebook and Apple will offer egg-freezing for non-medical issues to employees. Everyone rejoiced, then wondered if this was a way to keep them at work even longer. But before you make your appointment, we needed to find out everything we could about the procedure. We spoke with Dr. Jane Frederick, who practices at HRC Fertility in Los Angeles, who says that in 10 years, egg freezing will become as common as the birth control pill. We questioned her to find out more about the way technology is working to change women’s biological clocks — and how much all this will cost you—if you don’t work for tech giants.
theFashionSpot: At what age do you recommend women consider egg freezing?
Dr. Jane Frederick: Women should consider freezing their eggs before they turn 40 years old because the younger egg is more successful in producing a healthy pregnancy.
tFS: Are there any women that make particularly good or bad candidates for it?
JF: The best candidates for egg freezing are ones that have a good ovarian reserve with FSH hormone levels below 10 on the early part of their menstrual cycle.
tFS: What does the process entail and what is the usual cost?
JF: The process entails taking 10 days of hormone injections to produce 10 eggs and then undergoing an egg harvest under anesthesia. The cost is approximately $5,000 in my hands plus an annual storage fee.
tFS: Any side effects?
JF: The side effects are related to the hormone injections, which can cause bloating, menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms. The side effects are temporary and resolve once the process is completed.
tFS: To what do you attribute the rise in popularity of egg freezing? Can you highlight some other ways that technology is changing the biological clock?
JF: The rising in popularity of egg freezing is because women want to take control of the reproductive choices. It’s a harsh reality that professional women are at pivotal points in their careers at the same time when their fertility begins to decline. Egg freezing allows women to come to terms with the fact that their fertility is fading with the biological clock, and if she invests significant time, energy and money in protecting that asset, she can freeze her eggs. Since many women are delaying childbirth for financial or relationship reasons, I welcome egg freezing as an opportunity to control a woman’s reproductive potential, like the way a birth control pill does at this time. Freezing of an entire ovary is an alternative way for fertility preservation, although still in an experimental mode in terms of its success, and not readily accessible in many medical centers.
tFS: Can you elaborate a little bit on your theory that in 10 years egg freezing will be as common as the pill?
JF: In our fertility-obsessed society, women can’t escape the message that it’s harder to get pregnant after age 35. And yet, it’s not a conversation patients are having with the doctors they talk to about their most intimate issues — their ob-gyns — unless they bring up the topic first. Ob-gyns routinely ask patients during their annual exams about their sexual histories and need for contraception, but often missing from the list is, “Do you plan to have a family?” Now, egg freezing has been removed from the experimental labeling, and gaining credibility as an option for fertility preservation. Many ob-gyns have learned that the success rates have recently improved and are referring women to a respected fertility doctor who can offer this service. To standardize the message, I believe professional groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists should create pamphlets that doctors can give to patients, presenting the information in a non-biased, non-alarmist way. I expect ob-gyns will bring up family planning at every annual visit, so that women have the information they need to choose to take charge of their fertility. Perhaps more women will think about freezing in their early to mid-30s, when their chances of success are greater. Or maybe, after being asked about their plans from their very first visit, more will decide to start families when their eggs are at their prime and won’t even need to freeze.
tFS: Do you have any tips for women looking to improve their chances of conceiving naturally?
JF: It’s important to focus on a good diet and exercise program to maintain healthy preconception habits. Exercising too vigorously can be detrimental to fertility success. Watching your beverages like alcohol and caffeine as well as quitting smoking can improve the fertility potential. Being aware of a woman’s age and seeking medical attention when over the age of 35 can improve the chance of success. Acupuncture is often used as an adjunct to fertility treatments. Using an ovulation predictor kit can help in the timing of intercourse, and improve the chance of a successful conception. When not ovulating regularly, the specialist can step in to increase the odds for success.
For more on everyday things you may be doing to put your fertility at risk, click here.