Oocyte cryopreservation gives you the opportunity to stop time, preserving your “ooctyes” at peak fertility. It serves as a safety net in case you need to delay having children until later in life. The most amazing part of this process is that when those eggs are thawed, they will have the same characteristics from the day they were frozen—whether it was five, ten, or fifteen years earlier.
How Your Age Impacts Fertility
Your age significantly impacts your fertility. As you get older, the quantity and quality of your eggs decline, reducing your chance of getting pregnant. You are most fertile in your twenties, followed by your early thirties. By age 30, only one-eighth of the approximately two million eggs you were born with remain. After age 35, your fertility drops sharply each year. By the time you reach 40, you will have less than a ten percent chance of a successful pregnancy with your own eggs. By 45, that chance goes down to only one percent. Additionally, as you age there is a higher risk for chromosomal abnormalities with those eggs, making a healthy pregnancy even more challenging to achieve.
The entire process of freezing your eggs involves extracting, freezing, and storing them, and then using those eggs during in-vitro fertilization at a later date. Doctors have been tracking the success rates of each part of this process for years to determine what works best.
Ultimately, it is ideal to freeze your eggs in your twenties when you are most fertile, but outcomes have been very reassuring for women in their early to mid-thirties as well. A 2013 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that the success rates varied based on age, declining as age increased. For example, women who froze their eggs at age 30 were about twice as likely to conceive than those who froze their eggs when they were 40.
Is There An Age Limit?
Dr. Vanessa Weitzman, a specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at IVF Florida Reproductive Associates, explained, “There is no maximum age for a woman to freeze her eggs, but when evaluating the current studies, results data, and cost considerations, the general consensus is that it should be done before age 40.”
Another consideration is current egg donor guidelines. Egg donors are typically required to be between ages 21-34, so this is something to keep in mind as you explore when to freeze your own eggs.
Some doctors may offer egg freezing until age 40, while others may use an earlier age, like 35 or 38, as a cutoff date. If your local clinic has a restrictive age limit, but you are sure that egg freezing is something you wish to do, an FEBNetwork Client Liaison can work with you to find a clinic in our network to try to make it possible.
You And Your Fertility Are Unique
Every woman is different when it comes to the effects of age on fertility, so a thorough medical evaluation is key to knowing where you stand. Before you can start the process of freezing your eggs, you will need to be seen by a fertility specialist. You will most likely undergo some screening tests such as an ultrasound and blood work to look at hormone levels to determine if you are a good candidate.
The bottom line—there is no solid maximum age when you must freeze your eggs, but 40 tends to be used as a common guideline at this time. Just remember that each patient is unique. You generally have a better chance of success the younger you are, so don’t hesitate. If you are thinking of freezing your eggs, please contact an FEBNetwork Client Liaison today to get started on making your dreams of having a family come true.