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Your Fertility, Your Choice: Exploring the Pros and Cons of Egg Freezing
August 23, 2023

Most young women today are aware of the fact that they can freeze their eggs if they want to postpone childbearing. Frozen eggs don’t have a shelf-life, because all metabolic activity is suspended when they are frozen at -196 C in liquid nitrogen. They can use these frozen eggs whenever they are ready to have a baby - even after 5 to 10 years. The eggs will remain young, even though they become older! The risk with delaying childbearing is that as a woman ages, her eggs are much faster, and this increases her risk of having a baby with abnormalities such as Down syndrome or being unable to have a baby because older eggs don’t fertilize well.

The good news is that freezing eggs has now become very simple and straightforward as a medical procedure. There is practically no medical risk associated with it when done in a good clinic. It just takes a few days and is not painful either, which means it's now become an option that many more women are willing to explore. Of course, one of the downsides is it's still very expensive, and therefore you need to decide whether you're willing to spend that money to create this safety net for yourself.

You may not want a baby today, but suppose you do want a baby five years from now? And this is not a decision you can make for yourself alone – you need to do it in partnership with your husband. The problem is that we keep on changing our minds as we grow older because we reinvent ourselves as we age.

The good thing about egg freezing is it acts as a very useful reproductive insurance policy. When you are not sure what to do, it's helpful to use a flowchart when making a decision. Let me explain.

You have only 2 options - either you freeze your eggs, or you don't freeze your eggs. Both these choices could then result in two possible outcomes. Let's take this step by step.

If you do decide to freeze your eggs and then find out after five years that you want to have a baby, you can use those frozen eggs, and this is obviously a great outcome, because you made the right decision, and you're making good use of that frozen egg option, which is perfect – after all, that’s what it is designed for. On the other hand, suppose you freeze your eggs ( which is expensive, because you need to pay for freezing the eggs and their storage), and then decide after five years that you don't want to use those eggs. Or you could just get pregnant in your bedroom! In that scenario, egg freezing could have been considered to be a financial waste. Of course, you could always donate your frozen eggs to someone else - or perhaps even use them for your second baby. Who knows? It's just a good idea to create as many options as possible when you have the opportunity to do so, rather than regret the fact that you didn't afterward.

Let’s now consider the possibility that you decide not to freeze your eggs. Now, if you decide not to freeze your eggs and continue deciding not to have a baby, that's a great decision because you thought about it and decided not to pursue it. And it's a well-informed decision that you're not going to regret because that was the right decision at that point, and is still the right decision for you, which is great. You saved yourself the medical procedure, and you saved yourself quite a bit of money as well! If, on the other hand, you decide not to freeze your eggs and then you want to have a baby after a few years, and then you find you can't have a baby because your eggs have become too old because you're 40 years old, then you will regret the fact that you didn't freeze your eggs when you had a choice when you were younger. You need to think about this critically, and you might want to re-evaluate this decision every year – perhaps, on your birthday. Your decision-making matrix and preferences and priorities will keep on changing as you grow and evolve – and you need to remember that your Future You will not resemble your Present You.

We need to be willing to accept this and be open-minded and flexible so that we make a decision that is right for ourselves so that we don't have any regrets later on.

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.