Thinking about freezing your eggs? Here's what you should consider

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK 

Confused and unsure about freezing your eggs?

Gynaecologist and Infertility (IVF) Specialist Dr Devora Lieberman weighs up the potential upsides – and downsides – of going down the egg freezing route, which will vary from woman to woman. 

Gain some control back over your future fertility 

This can be the biggest pro of egg freezing, says Dr Lieberman of Sydney's Genea Fertility Clinic. She believes the decision to undergo egg freezing is entirely up to the patient. 

"The only time I would recommend it is if a woman is about to go undergo a fertility-reducing procedure such as chemotherapy or ovarian surgery. 

 "But the biggest con is that it's not a guarantee.

"One of the big challenges we have [in the egg freezing realm] is that around the world, less than 10 per cent of women who freeze their eggs come back to use them, [so] we'll never have success rates as we do for other kinds of fertility treatments."

A new mindset 

"Many women tell me they feel quite empowered when they freeze their eggs, they feel liberated. It changes their approach to relationships and dating," Dr Lieberman says. 

"Many women find a psychological benefit, understanding that it's not a guarantee, but they've done what they can do to preserve their future fertility and keep their options option."

It's an age thing 

"If a woman is under 35 and has 15 to 20 eggs in storage she might expect a 70 to 80 per cent chance of having a baby, and that drops dramatically as women get older - above the age of 38. 

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"Older eggs aren't as robust as younger eggs so don't survive the freezing process as well. For some women as they get older they might be freezing their infertility," Dr Lieberman says.  

Then there's the fact that there are no tests that can detect a woman's chances of pregnancy or the quality of a woman's eggs: "We don't know anything about the quality of eggs until a woman tries to get pregnant with them.  

"We have tests only for [egg] quantity." 

Prior to treatment, a woman should have a blood test and ultrasound that will give her an idea of how many eggs she might expect, says Dr Lieberman. 

Get on with your day after the procedure 

A procedure guided by ultrasound under mild anaesthetic, the egg retrieval process is "very straight-forward and most women go through it just fine," according to Dr Lieberman. 

"The process of stimulating the ovaries [involves] about 10 days of daily injections, and [a woman will] need to come to the clinic two or three times for blood tests and ultrasounds."

The cost

There is no Medicare rebate for egg freezing, and the procedure comes with out-of-pocket costs. 

"At Genea, the cost for the first cycle is $5,800 plus the cost of the drugs, which can vary upwards of $1,500, depending on how many days the woman needs to use them - so that can take up to price up to $7,500," Dr Lieberman says.  

For more information visit HealthShare, a joint venture with Essential Baby to improve the health of Australians.