BOSTON (CBS) – It’s something many young women never thought they would do, but fertility centers are seeing more of these patients freezing their eggs.
Melanie Bradshaw is one of those women. Being 34 and single prompted her to go to a fertility clinic for the procedure. “I didn’t want to give up that dream of still having that family and having the kids and everything.”
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine no longer considers egg freezing experimental.
Much of that decision has to do with improving technology. “There are two ways that people freeze eggs. We’ve optimized both of these technologies to the point where experienced centers now see comparable success rates from eggs that were frozen from either method, to those that are fertilized fresh,” explained Dr. Eric Widra.
It’s a sign of hope in a time of changing lifestyles. Psychologist Joann Galst says many of these patients are buying time to focus on other goals like finding a partner, finishing school, or straightening out finances.
“There’s also a focus for women on establishing their careers before they start their families,” said Galst.
Although the technology is getting better, there isn’t a lot of data available. Only about 2,000 babies have been born from frozen eggs worldwide, mostly through donation programs.
Dr. Widra said those usually involve eggs from young women which have been frozen for a short period of time. “So we don’t know yet whether freezing eggs from older women, or for a longer period of time, will have consequences. We don’t think it will, but we don’t know yet.”
Experts say it is also important to remember that freezing eggs is just one step in the process. “Even with high quality eggs, it is not a guarantee that there will be implantation and the live birth that results, which is the ultimate goal,” said Galst.
Melanie still plans to try and conceive naturally someday, but feels good having a backup plan. “For me, it is empowerment and it has made me stronger.”
Insurers are not required to cover egg freezing.