A Q&A with Kristin Bendikson, MD, about egg freezing
Our own L.A. egg freezing expert, Dr. Bendikson, knows virtually everything there is to know about ovulation induction, IVF and egg freezing. She is also a teacher, researcher and mom of two. We asked her whether egg freezing is something she would recommend for herself or her family and friends.
If you wanted to preserve your fertility, would you do egg freezing yourself?
Yes, I would 100% do this. I want my daughter to do this. I want my friends to do this, and my friends’ daughters to do this. You never know where your life is going to take you, so you should always be prepared.
If you think about it, we spend our whole lives trying to prepare for the future. We get a 401(k), go to the dentist, take calcium and eat healthy food so that we can be happy and healthy in the future. Egg freezing is another thing we can do to ensure that we have the future we envision for ourselves.
Why don’t all women decide to do egg freezing?
Cost is a big barrier, and egg freezing does take time and involve medication and a medical procedure. I really think the biggest barrier is getting to the point where you are ready to walk in the door for your first appointment.
Some women feel like egg freezing means they have given up on finding the right partner, or they are not where they planned to be in their lives. But I don’t view it that way at all. I think it means in doing this that you are taking charge of your own fertility potential, potentially giving a gift to your future self.
Some women ask, will it be worth it? Will I ever make a baby with these eggs? Hopefully, you won’t ever have to use your frozen eggs, but if you do need to use them you will be happy that you did everything you could to preserve your fertility when you had the chance.
What’s the ideal age for a woman to freeze eggs?
For most women, the ideal time for egg freezing is up to age 35. There’s not that much difference between fertility at 31 and at 33 for most women. But the closer you get to 35, there is a higher likelihood that you could be staring to experience some ovarian decline. After the age of 35, you’ll see a bigger decline in egg supply and egg quality, even if your fertility test results were great when you were younger. Even though the ideal time might be before 35, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it if you are older. It still can be very useful and successful in women over 35.
The earlier you do egg freezing, the more eggs you are likely to get, and the better quality those eggs will be. The longer you wait, the chances that each egg becomes a baby go down. And the older you are, the more you might need multiple cycles of egg freezing in order to have the best chance to conceive in the future.
There are too many people who wait too long. I see a lot of women who are 38 or 40 kicking themselves that they didn’t do it sooner. While it’s not a guarantee of having a baby, it does help mitigate that regret. The challenge, though, is that the young women who need to be doing egg freezing right now might not even have a baby on their radar, so they’re just not thinking about it when they need to be.
Is egg freezing safe?
It’s very safe. Egg freezing doesn’t change your fertility, it won’t affect the age you will go into menopause and it won’t hurt your ability to get pregnant in the future. It doesn’t cause any long-term health problems, and research has proven that the ovarian stimulation medications used are not associated with an increased risk of cancer.
Some women will have some side effects of bloating and fullness while going through the process, and it does require you to come in frequently for a short while, but it’s only about 10 days of injections and about a week or so of monitoring visits. You can plan it around your schedule. It’s not the old IVF process that used to take two months, so women shouldn’t let their friends’ IVF stories scare them away.
What would you say to young women who are on the fence?
Go to a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) who will take the time to walk you through the process. Get educated about it. Have some fertility testing done. It’s the only way to find out how well egg freezing might work for you, learn about the quantity and quality of your eggs, and figure out how much time you might have before you really need to act.
I started a fertility diagnostic testing program here, and that’s a bridge for many women because it can identify if any fertility issues are already happening. Infertility can happen even in young, healthy women, and there’s no way to know unless you get tested. At the very least, testing and the counseling that comes with it helps you understand what the implications are if you want to wait four years to have a baby or freeze your eggs.
There’s no obligation to move ahead with egg freezing, so why not get the information you need to make an informed choice?
To learn more about L.A. egg freezing, contact us to schedule a no-obligation consultation.