Biological Clock Ticking? Egg Freezing Is Now An Option

By Lynne Terry
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

A “Sex and the City” type of cocktail party is coming to Portland, geared towards young women worried about their ticking biological clocks.

Two women from Los Angeles are staging an event Thursday to promote egg freezing, a medical technique designed to keep a woman’s pregnancy dreams alive as the years flip by. The eggs are taken from her body and flash-frozen, keeping them viable for years.

Reproductive specialists have frozen the eggs of women facing chemotherapy or radiation for decades. But in 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine essentially endorsed the practice as an elective procedure by declaring that egg freezing was no longer considered experimental.

Since then, the egg-freezing business has ramped up at fertility centers across the country.

“It certainly has taken off,” said Dr. Richard Paulson, vice president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. “Egg freezing really works now.”

Physicians used to preserve women’s eggs, or oocytes, using a slow freeze method. But that caused ice crystals to form, which damaged the cells when they were thawed. In the past decade, a new method was developed to avoid that problem. Vitrification involves sinking the eggs in liquid nitrogen, instantly freezing them at minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit. The eggs are tucked away in this state of suspended animation for future use.

The procedure is not cheap, costing about $10,000 a pop, plus hundreds of dollars a year in storage fees. It’s not covered by most insurance policies.

But that hasn’t deterred young women interested in postponing childbirth while they climb the corporate ladder or those with money and no partner who want to have their own genetic child in the future.

“Women now have an option of preserving and of essentially being their own egg donor in the future,” Paulson said.

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