Freezing Your Eggs Doesn’t Always Work Out
Every so often, I receive an application from a woman who wants private coaching who is torn: invest into finding lasting love or freeze her eggs to potentially have children. If she has a finite amount of money, as most of us do, it’s often an either/or.
I’m aware of the potential conflict of interest in giving advice in this situation, but my opinion has never wavered: the best thing you can do – and the surest ticket to long-term happiness is to become happily married and then figure out how to start a family together – IVF, adoption, surrogacy, etc. And yet, for many women who long to have their own biological children and see their window closing, they opt to freeze their eggs first and try to find a guy later.
The best thing you can do – and the surest ticket to long-term happiness is to become happily married and then figure out how to start a family together – IVF, adoption, surrogacy, etc.
It’s the story of Brigette Adams, who spent $19,000 to freeze 11 eggs in her late 30’s, only to discover, at age 45, that her insurance policy wasn’t as airtight as she thought.
“Two eggs failed to survive the thawing process. Three more failed to fertilize. That left six embryos, of which five appeared to be abnormal. The last one was implanted in her uterus. On the morning of March 7, she got the devastating news that it, too, had failed.”
This is not an uncommon story.
“James A. Grifo, a fertility specialist at NYU Langone Health who is one of the pioneers of the procedure, calls the whole notion of being able to “control” your fertility – perpetuated by the media and embraced by feminists – destructive.
“It’s total fiction. It’s incorrect,” Grifo said. “Your whole life it’s beaten into your head that you’re in control and if you can’t have a baby, you blame yourself. There has to be more dialogue about what women can be responsible for and what they are not responsible for.”
To be clear, it’s not that egg freezing is a bad option. If you freeze your eggs when you’re under 35, you have a very high likelihood of fertilizing them. Those numbers drop steadily through age 45, when harvesting 6 eggs only offer a 5% chance at a live birth. For a fortysomething woman counting on egg-freezing to save the day, that can be a rude awakening.
“Individual clinics are often reluctant to share their own information, she said, and many don’t refer patients to academic studies that attempt to quantify the probability of success. Only a few such studies exist: A 2016 Fertility and Sterility study of 137 women who tried to use their frozen eggs found that women who froze 10 eggs at the age of 36 faced a 30 percent likelihood of achieving a live birth. Last year, researchers writing in Human Reproduction calculated that the same women should have a 60 percent success rate based on their mathematical model.”
A 100% drop between the mathematical model and reality; that’s a pretty big difference between what doctors hope will happen and what actually happens.
The decision to conceive a child without a father is an intensely personal one, and the only person who has the right to make that decision is the woman involved. Still, I think it’s essential that women start with a full set of facts.
The fact is that egg freezing has a highly variable success rate, dependent upon the age of the woman and the availability of viable eggs.
The fact is that telling a guy you’ve frozen your eggs is NOT a huge selling point. I’ve seen women put this in their profiles as if it would attract a 40-year-old man who wants to be a father. It’s not. He’s still going to reach out to women 25-35 if he wants time to fall in love and get married without the iffy nature of egg freezing determining his future.
The fact is that telling a guy you’ve frozen your eggs is NOT a huge selling point. I’ve seen women put this in their profiles as if it would attract a 40-year-old man who wants to be a father. It’s not.
The fact is that even if you have a child, dating as a single mom to an infant or toddler is extremely challenging, and most men will tend to avoid the situation, if possible.
Once again, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t freeze your eggs. If anything, you should just realize the limitations of egg freezing while weighing your options.
Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.