As a clinical psychologist, I have encountered many women in their late 20’s and early 30’s who have anxiety because their biological clock is ticking, and they are nowhere near ready to have a baby– many of them feel they are too busy with careers or graduate school; and others struggle because they want to wait till they find a husband before becoming pregnant– yet they have no way of knowing when Mr Right will materialize.
More and more women today are considering egg freezing as a way to extend their fertility and remove the time pressure associated with women and fertility. Women who hope to have more than one child are especially concerned because, while they may be able to have their first child relatively easily even at at age 33 or 34, they hope to add a second or third child several years later– which is very likely to be more difficult if they space the children two or three years apart, putting the woman into her forties by the time she views her family as complete.
Many women who come to see me for therapy or coaching on another issue, such as a demanding job or difficulties finding a romantic relationship, will share fertility concerns almost as an afterthought, because they are so busy trying to solve the work or relationship problem. However, the work or relationship problem creates a secondary fertility problem because it delays the woman from having a child during her easiest childbearing years. Women who are delaying childbirth because of career or relationship issues often don’t focus on fertility initially because it’s a problem they have felt powerless to address due to professional or romantic obstacles– until recently: As egg freezing grows more popular, more women are feeling empowered to address fertility concerns in a proactive and results-oriented manner. Below are 3 of the points that often arise in my office that women find helpful:
- Changing the dating game. Single women in their late twenties, early thirties, and beyond tend to be particularly anxious about their biological clock. They often feel stuck between lowering their relationship standards in order to marry quickly, and taking the chance that their fertility may be compromised by the time Mr Right shows up. The relatively recent ability to have eggs frozen is changing how women perceive dating and relationships. Thirty-ish single women often complain that their dates assume the woman is desperate to get into a serious relationship soon so that marriage and children will follow before her fertility is compromised. In fact, the women sometimes do feel that way- and it isn’t fun. The perception that the woman is eager to “take the next step” can upset dating dynamics because it throws off the traditional dating dynamic in which the man pursues the woman rather than sensing she is desperately going to pursue him because she’s eager to have children. When the woman lets it be known in the early stages of dating that her eggs are banked and she’s not in a hurry, it often gives her a restored sense of confidence and patience, which helps both the man and woman to feel more comfortable.
Assured that their healthy eggs have been preserved for use at the appropriate time, women feel considerably less dating pressure to find partners who commit to long-term relationship goals such as childbearing and raising a family. The pressure to find such a partner is often a major factor that leads to frustration and rejection especially when brought to bear early in a relationship. Freezing eggs changes the game by relaxing the focus on the ability to share long-term goals in favor of other traits that determine compatibility.
- Cost of the procedure. The cost of oocyte cryopreservation (more commonly known as egg freezing) is expensive at about $10,000 for the entire procedure. There is also an annual storage cost of $500-$1000 and then, when the suitable time comes, a woman could expect to spend about $10,000 for egg thawing, fertilization and embryo transfer. Ultimately, however, freezing eggs and/or fertility preservation is a very good and practical investment for many women. It significantly broadens the choices women can make in terms of marriage, career, education and other important life goals that would otherwise be restricted by the pressure from childbearing.
It’s not unusual for me to work with 30-year-old lawyers and bankers who initially balk at the idea of spending $10k on the procedure, but when they compare that with the $200k they’ve spent on education it starts to make more sense: They invested in their education, why not invest in their fertility and give themselves more time to make careful choices about when and with whom to have children? Similarly, when women consider the financial cost of divorce after potentially marrying the wrong man out time pressure, even taking out a loan for $10k starts sounding more and more reasonable as an option that places the woman back in control. Companies such as Eggbanxx.com also offer financing for this procedure.
- Choice of health professionals and methods. Fertility preservation is by no means a haphazard process. It requires careful consideration and consultations with qualified health professionals. Find out if your doctor is board certified, and if so then what field? Also find out if your doctor is affiliated with the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Do they have hospital privileges? Where did they go to medical school? What is their success rate? The Center for Disease Control actually publishes success rates here: CDC report of fertility clinic success rates.
Ask potential doctors where and how the frozen eggs would be stored. The preferred method is usually to freeze the eggs and store them in separate straws. That way, when thawing is required for fertilization, the whole batch does not need to be subjected to the thawing process. This preserves the integrity of the other eggs in the batch in case you want to use the eggs over a period of years to have multiple children.
My advice is to talk to at least three highly qualified doctors and see which one makes you feel most comfortable. In addition to being competent and qualified, you should feel comfortable and confident that your doctor listens to you and understands your needs. This is true for any doctor-patient relationship, but the need to find a doctor who can help you understand important information and “get it right the first time” is especially important in egg freezing
Hearing the tick-tock of the proverbial biological clock exerts tremendous pressure on many women in terms of their career, education, relationships, and other important life goals. However, fertility preservation by way of freezing eggs is giving women the chance to change how they perceive life and relationship goals by broadening their fertility options. It is an expensive procedure but can be well worth the time and money to many women who need or want want to buy time to use towards career, education, relationships, and other important goals.
Are you a woman with questions about how egg freezing could broaden your relationship or career options? Feel free to contact my office to discuss further.