What Age Should You Freeze Your Eggs?
But if you’re considering taking this next step in your fertility journey, you might be wondering — what age should you freeze your eggs?
In this article, we’re going to look at when the best time to freeze your eggs is, how your age can affect your fertility, and what the process entails.
How does age affect fertility?
Fertility for women decreases with age. As women get older, it becomes more difficult to become pregnant, as both egg quality and the number of eggs gets lower. The risk of miscarriage also increases.
A woman's fertility normally peaks between their late teens and late twenties, with fertility starting to decrease as they hit their thirties. In particular, there is a steep decline in fertility after the age of 35, which has an impact on natural conception.
Egg freezing and other forms of fertility treatment can help to increase your chances of getting pregnant when you’re older and having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
How does freezing your eggs work?
Egg freezing is the process by which your eggs are harvested from your ovaries and then vitrified (frozen) for use in the future.
Before you have any of your eggs frozen, you’ll have an initial consultation to go through your medical history and suitability for the treatment. You’ll also undergo various fertility fitness tests as well as checks for infectious diseases (such as HIV), to make sure that your body is healthy as well as your eggs.
If you are HIV positive, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have your eggs frozen — it’s just so the clinic knows to store your eggs separately.
You’ll then have to take egg-boosting medication to stimulate the ovaries and increase your egg production. This process normally takes a couple of weeks, and it also helps the eggs to mature.
Once the eggs are ready, they’ll be removed under sedation. Multiple eggs will be removed at once, which are then cooled and frozen to be used in the future. The freezing process used is called vitrification. This is where concentrated substances are used to freeze the eggs without letting any ice crystals form.
The removal of your eggs can take as little as 15 minutes, so it’s a very quick procedure. The longest part will be when you have to take the egg-stimulating medication, so it shouldn’t impact your lifestyle too much.
When you are ready to have a baby, the egg will be fertilised in the laboratory and the embryo transferred to your uterus via in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
What are the benefits of freezing your eggs?
There are many benefits to freezing your eggs, and many women are now choosing to do so for a number of different reasons:
- Take control of your life – some women want to focus on their careers before starting a family. Freezing your eggs can increase the chances of success when trying to conceive at an older age and allow you to have your career and family when you want it.
- Time to find the right partner – deciding to have a child with someone is a big step, so you want to make sure you do it with the right person. Many women may want to freeze their eggs in order for them to find their ideal partner, rather than feeling like they have to settle down with possibly the wrong partner because they want to start a family.
- Preservation due to illness – women facing treatment for an illness like cancer (which can affect fertility) may look into freezing their eggs so that they can look into having a child once they’ve recovered. Other women may need to have a hysterectomy; freezing your eggs before this can allow you to still have a biological child via surrogate.
- Reducing anxiety – some women worry that their window of opportunity for having children is closing, so freezing your eggs gives you more time to think about starting a family.
Whatever the reason you’re freezing your eggs for, the main benefit is that it will allow you to preserve high-quality eggs for your future.
To find out more, visit our blog post on the benefits of freezing your eggs. [LINK]
What is the best age to freeze your eggs?
While there is a general time of peak fertility in women, the best age to freeze your eggs can differ slightly from person to person. Most women will be at their most fertile between 18–29 years old, with their egg quality and quantity declining once they hit their thirties.
Freezing your eggs earlier is better if you want to ensure that they’re the best quality eggs for you to use when you want to have a baby in the future. But some women may have to freeze them a lot later than planned. This could be because of a few things, such as an unexpected illness or a change in circumstance.
When this happens, egg collection may have to happen past the peak age, which can mean more cycles have to be completed in order to collect as many viable eggs as possible.
The right age to freeze your eggs will depend entirely on your personal situation, and it can be later for some than others.
Can you freeze your eggs at 40?
Typically, freezing your eggs past the age of 38 isn’t recommended. This is because the quality and quantity of your eggs will have declined greatly, making it harder to retrieve enough viable eggs that will lead to a healthy pregnancy in the future.
The closer you get to menopause, the harder it will be for your eggs to be collected and frozen. So, while it’s possible to have your eggs frozen at 40, it’s not generally recommended as getting pregnant over this age isn’t going to be easy.
There are also more complications and risks associated with getting pregnant at 40 plus, so not many clinics will be readily available to freeze your eggs at this age.
How long can you freeze your eggs for?
The rules for how long you can store your eggs have only recently changed.
From July 2022, you can now store your frozen eggs for use in fertility treatment for up to 55 years from the date they’re put into storage. Before this, there was a 10-year legal limit on the storage of frozen eggs.
Generally, between 10 and 15 eggs will be removed and frozen per cycle. This is because not all of them will survive the freezing and thawing — so having more eggs frozen in one go can give you a better chance of success later on.
How successful is egg freezing?
The success rate of egg freezing depends on a number of different factors, including the clinic that performs the procedure.
Currently, women who use their own frozen eggs in fertility treatment have a success rate of around 18%. There is a 30% success rate when using fresh donor eggs. Neither option guarantees pregnancy and birth, so it’s worth bearing this in mind.
You can boost your chances of success by ensuring that you look after your body beforehand. Make sure that you eat well, try not to drink alcohol or smoke, and even start taking prenatal vitamins. Your fertility consultant will be able to guide you further.
Find out more about egg freezing todayIf you’re considering egg freezing or other fertility treatments, get in touch with us here at IVF Matters for a free advisory call. Our team of experts will be able to advise you on what’s right for you and your body.