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Health Team

Slowing the Biological Clock: Is Egg Freezing the Answer?

Posted October 1, 2013

For many women, the question isn't whether to have children or not, but when to do it. Unfortunately, biology plays a big part in dictating the best time for a woman to become pregnant. A woman has all the eggs she will use for reproduction when she's born and those eggs are gradually depleted with age. In fact, by the time a woman is in her 30s or 40s, she may have few viable eggs left, and those may be more fragile than eggs she had when she was younger. It might seem then, that the best time for a woman to become pregnant is when she is in her young 20s.

But what about the woman who has not yet found a partner that she would like to start a family with? What about the woman who wants delay parenthood to pursue educational or career or financial goals? Or what about the woman who may not be emotionally prepared to start a family until she is in her 40s? Should these women really have to give up the dream of being mothers, simply because of the health of their eggs?

Until recently, women's options were limited, but now, improvements in science and technology have opened up a new possibility of preserving reproduction: egg freezing.

Egg freezing is a procedure of extracting eggs and preserving them until they are ready to be used. The difficult part has been the process of freezing the eggs so that they do not form ice crystals that affect the structure of the eggs. For years, doctors have frozen the combination of an egg and sperm (embryo freezing) for couples wanting the option to have children later. But because egg freezing was not as reliable a practice, it was primarily used as a last resort for women who faced sterility because of chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer. Now, however, new techniques in freezing and thawing the egg have improved, offering women new choices.

New studies show that frozen eggs provide pregnancy rates similar to fresh eggs and that babies born as a result of the egg freezing process have no greater risk of birth defects or complications. In 2012, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine determined that egg freezing should no longer be labeled experimental and can be a considered a viable option for women who want to wait to start a family.

Carolina Conceptions in Raleigh, NC, has been freezing eggs for over five years, initially to preserve the eggs of women undergoing cancer treatment. But now, after several pregnancies and births in women after egg freezing, Drs. Couchman, Park, Meyer and embryologist Dr. Sushma Singh regard freezing eggs as a more main line therapy that allows women to have more of a choice in the setting of their biological clock.

Please contact Carolina Conceptions for more contact information.

Carolina Conceptions is an advertising partner of WRAL.com, but each article is intended to be educational and informative in nature.

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