by Marqui Benavides (TDS Donor Ambassador 2015)
Reproductive aging in women is a bit of a mystery to most people. We think if we look at a young woman and she looks healthy, her ability to conceive naturally is fit also. I actually never realized how little myself and other women my age think about this when planning their future families. In reality, a woman’s fertility starts to decline around age 30, particularly around age 35, and by 40 her chances of getting pregnant each month have steeply declined. “Each month that she tries, a healthy, fertile 30-year-old woman has a 20% chance of getting pregnant and by age 40, a woman’s chance is less than 5% per cycle.”1
Doctors do not know the reason for this although it is thought that “the last eggs to ovulate in older females have traversed more cell cycles during fetal development than eggs ovulated in younger females.” These additional cell cycles cause the cells to arrest and leads to “genomic instability.” 2 In layman’s terms, that means the older the eggs, the less viability they have to go on and unite with the sperm and create a healthy embryo that will result in a healthy baby.
Egg freezing as a way to preserve future fertility has been growing in popularity and it got a lot of attention when Apple and Facebook announced a year or so ago they would cover egg freezing in their employee health plans. In fact, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), in 2009, 500 women froze their eggs and in 2013 almost 5,000 did. Having some coverage under your health insurance is necessary for most people as egg freezing can cost $10,000 to $15,000 not including long-term storage fees. 3
Still, there are no guarantees and as we increasingly focus on education and careers during our 20s – the time in our lives when we are most fertile – we will need to arm ourselves with knowledge. That combined with advances in technology can hopefully help women make smart choices about their future fertility.
Do you think about preserving your future fertility through egg freezing? If so, what questions do you have about the process? Does having more information on reproductive aging influence your career or other important life decisions? How can we at The Donor Solution help to get your started on your path to egg freezing and securing your future family?
1 Age and Fertility: A Guide for Patients (ASRM, 2012), 4.
2 Keefe, David, MD, “What Causes Reproductive Aging?” (START ART, 2015)
3 Alter, Charlotte; Trianni, Francesca; Tsai, Diane; “What Your Really Need to Know About Egg Freezing (Time Magazine, July 16, 2015).