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The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has announced that mature oocyte cryopreservation (freezing of unfertilized human eggs) is no longer “experimental”.

Now a state-of-the-art reproductive technology, OC has profound implications for women delaying pregnancy until after 40. Simply, it means that women now have the potential to freeze their own eggs during peak fertility years, wait for Mr. Right, and start a family at the time of their own choosing.

Click here, for a 1-minute video on the implications of egg freezing, and an opportunity to voice your opinion.

Why The Change?

Paula Amato talks on egg freezing/delayed pregnancy, May 2012.
Research has shown that recent refinements to techniques in egg freezing have resulted in similar success rates to traditional IVF procedures using frozen embryos (fertilized eggs) for pregnancy and birth.

According to Dr. Paula Amato (http://www NULL.ohsu NULL.edu/xd/health/services/providers/amatop NULL.cfm)—Chairperson for the ASRM Ethics Committee, and Associate Professor of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the Oregon Health & Science University—the demand for frozen oocytes is increasing.

“More data (peer-reviewed studies from multiple investigators) on pregnancy rates and obstetrical outcomes (safety and efficacy) have been published in recent years—the results are overall reassuring”, she says.

According to Dr. Amato, OC may “now be deemed a standard ART procedure offered to appropriately selected patients.”

What Are The Benefits?

Jennifer Redmond, Co-Founder of Fertility Authority (http://www NULL.fertilityauthority NULL.com/) and its recently launched partner website www.eggfreezingcosts.com (http://www NULL.eggfreezingcosts NULL.com), welcomes the news as a step forward in women’s childbearing options, especially for pregnancy delayed past the peak fertility years, prior to age 35.

“We believe that egg freezing is changing the face of infertility and allowing women to take some control over their biological clock”, she says.

Redmond cites one of the “great myths” that have lead women to believe it’s easy to conceive after 40—an illusion that has resulted in countless tears of disappointment.

“We see celebrities getting pregnant in their 40’s and 50’s, and the chances are they are using donor eggs, not their own eggs because, as we age, the quantity and quality of our eggs decreases.”

The new egg-freezing technology, she suggests, could help to alleviate some of the shock and disappointment of age-related infertility in the long term.

What Are The Risks?

Marna Gatlin, PVED

Primarily the ASRM has recommended the use of OC for fertility preservation in cancer patients, and overcoming some of the challenges of existing IVF procedures.

However, they have warned against assuming oocyte cryopreservation will be a panacea for maternal ageing, stating they are not ready to “endorse widespread use of egg freezing for elective use”.

“Marketing this technology for the purpose of deferring childbearing may give women false hope and encourage them to delay childbearing”, the report says.

However, not everyone agrees with the ASRM’s position on delayed pregnancy. Marna Gatlin, founder of the nonprofit, Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED) (http://www NULL.pved NULL.org/) says: “I understand there are risks involved in having a child after 40, but I don’t understand why ASRM is making such a big deal about women who wait to become mothers after 40.”

PVED (http://www NULL.pved NULL.org/) doesn’t think it’s a bad thing for women to delay motherhood over 40, regardless of whether it’s with their own egg or with a donor egg—to suggest otherwise is incredibly disappointing”, she contined.

The report goes on to warn that a woman’s age at the time of freezing her eggs plays a significant role: “Success rates appear to be significantly lower for women who cryopreserve or vitrify oocytes over the age of 38.”

Jennifer Redmond also highlights the heavy costs of elective fertility treatments: “Many people can’t afford fertility treatments if they are not covered by insurance.”

The ASRM and Dr. Amato have stressed the importance of counseling patients on the risks, costs and clinic-specific success rates for OC.

What’s The Impact on Our Society?

Dr. Michael Feinman

There are also broader implications for the widespread use of egg freezing technology.

Dr. Michael Feinman, Medical Director for the Huntingdon Reproductive Center (http://www NULL.havingbabies NULL.com/) in California, says that he’s noticing a “new dialogue” emerging around the issue of delayed motherhood.

Until now, fertility after 40 has been largely trial and error—women have had to tackle the challenges of career, partnering and childbearing with a lot left up to chance.

However, Feinman reports that changes in attitude towards putting off having children until later are already evident.  At his fertility clinic, many parents are supporting their daughter’s option to give birth later by paying for egg freezing as a college graduation present.

“What’s different is that delayed motherhood can now be a conscious, deliberate, decision—people are asking, is it right for us, en masse, as a society to do this?”

According to Feinman, whose wife had a surprise pregnancy in midlife and gave birth at 44, we should still consider unforeseen health risks of having children later in life.

“Of course, women have the right to delay motherhood until they are ready—but as a lifestyle plan, it may not be right for everybody” he says.


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4 Responses to NEWS: ASRM Says Egg Freezing No Longer Experimental

  1. Carolyn (http://www NULL.mommyinthmiddle NULL.com) says:

    I think an option like OC would take a lot of pressure off of women who delay motherhood for reasons beyond their control.

    I was part of the singles crowd for more years than I care to mention. In those days I met many women who feared they wouldn’t find the right partner in time to have children.

    Many set a “deadline” for themselves. If they didn’t find “Mr. Right” by age 39, they would take steps to have a baby on their own by age 40. And I did see quite a few go through with that plan.

    In most cases these women were approaching 30 when they started to hear their clock ticking.

    Losing the sense of urgency (and in many cases panic) could make women more relaxed about finding a partner, and about the course of their lives in general.

  2. Lylas says:

    I was struck by the sentence in the report that reads, “…encourage them to delay childbearing”. I have to agree with Marna, the word ‘encourage’ is a very strange choice indeed. Its not like women were looking for a reason to delay childbearing. I highly doubt that childbearing age will rise solely because this option is available. Its kind of like saying that sex education will encourage young people to start having sex.

  3. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.flowerpowermom NULL.com) says:

    I agree with you Carolyn. I can remember being one of those casualties of social factors beyond our control: 50% divorce rate for first time marriages; the expectation that we take advantage of opportunities for education and income, to which we are entitled. Increasingly, women are reporting on how men of marriageable age are reluctant to commit. For that matter, how many guys are ready to make a commitment to a woman fresh out of high school?
    Divorced, partly because my first husband didn’t want children, and single at 36 I can remember the terrible anxiety I felt over meeting “Mr. Right”. Women are pressured into making decisions they wouldn’t normally make regarding childbearing.
    Lylas, I love the analogy to sex education! Having the option to freeze eggs is more like an insurance against a devastating emotional loss. No woman plans to put off pregnancy until after 40. Now, however, she will have the peace of mind to make life decisions that work for her and are better for the child. You never know, in a calmer frame of mind, with more clarity, she may find the right partner earlier in life.

  4. cara dewitt (http://achildafter40) says:

    whatever happens ,i reserve the option to make my own decision . it is still my body ,and my life . who can say the day of their death, no matter how old or young you are ? so that is stupid comment . my mother lived late 90’s . if i do the same i have a long way to travel yet.should i lay myself down and die before my time to satisfy an idiot ? suck on it , you are a fool .yes , i am bad. when i am bad , i am horrific.

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