BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – With more women delaying motherhood for careers, the medical process of freezing their eggs has reached a record level in Connecticut. More employers’ insurance plans are now covering the costs of the process.
Freezing a woman’s eggs at a younger age can lead to healthier outcomes years later when a woman may be ready to become pregnant. Not only do women have more difficulty conceiving as they age, but the quality and abundance of their eggs decrease over time.
Sirin Karasay is a nurse in Connecticut who recently froze her eggs for possible motherhood in the future. Like so many single women, she was focused on her career. Karasay only started thinking about a baby when someone close to her went through fertility treatment and she learned about egg freezing.
“The process itself was actually very easy,” Karasay said.
It’s four weeks total, but can be sped up for cancer patients who are freezing their eggs to preserve their fertility. There are hormone injections and then daily morning medical checks leading up to the egg retrieval process, which is surgical.
“We would either do lab draws or ultrasounds where they would follow my growth,” Karasay said.
Karasay is part of a growing trend. This shows how the popularity of egg freezing has steadily gone up at the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services, even during COVID in 2020. This year’s total is expected to be up to 100 women.
“It’s just growing in popularity as more and more women learn it’s an option for them to preserve their fertility while they focus on other things,” Makhijani said.
She says things like education or a career. Makhijani says that egg freezing has greatly improved in just the past few years. Before they are stored in liquid nitrogen, women’s eggs are flash-frozen so that no ice crystals form and ruin them.
“Now, the technology they use for egg freezing, called vitrification, it’s very effective and most of the eggs survive once you come back to use them,” Dr. Makhijani said.
The doctor says more than 90% survive the thaw now. Egg freezing does not impact a women’s future ability to conceive on their own.
So, when is the ideal age range for freezing eggs? When women are younger and egg quality and abundance are higher.
“Age is the best predictor of egg quality. I think that the sweet spot for egg freezing is typically somewhere between your late 20s to your mid-30s,” Makhijani said.
The center educates patients that egg quality starts to decline between ages 35 and 38 but many women find success freezing good quality eggs at later ages as well.
Karasay is 39 and was able to have 11 high-quality eggs to freeze.
“It is a relief. I did it for myself. If it’s something that I want to explore later, it’s something that I can look back to and hopefully use, if necessary,” Karasay said.
The entire egg freezing process runs around $10,000, with an increasing number of company health plans now offering coverage.
If and women a woman chooses to thaw her eggs, the next step to motherhood using those eggs would be in-vitro fertilization or IVF with a partner’s or a donor’s sperm, which is an additional cost.