SOCIAL EGG FREEZING – YAY or NAY?

Social egg freezing is a term used for freezing a woman eggs for non-medical reasons and for the purpose of using it later when she desires.  A lot of women in the reproductive age group want to delay childbearing due to either educational or career demands, or simply because they have not yet found a partner. These young girls are not aware of the impact of advanced age on their childbearing potential. Even those who are aware, overestimate the success of IVF in helping them to achieve pregnancy at an advanced age. Moreover, the young women between age 28- 35 years do not consider the use of fertility preservation by egg freezing, as they do not feel the threat of infertility in later years.

It is of utmost importance to know that with advancing age not only the number of eggs decline to lead to difficulty in conceiving, but also the quality of eggs decline i.e. the genetic aberrations are more which leads to high incidence of miscarriages.

The egg freezing techniques known as oocyte vitrification, has significantly improved over time. The frozen egg can be successfully retrieved in 81%- 87% of the cases. Moreover, the pregnancy rate by using these frozen eggs are also very good up to the tune of 27 -35 %. Also, the recent studies show no difference in pregnancy, miscarriage or live birth rates between fresh and cryopreserved oocyte .

Egg freezing should not be last ditch effort to save fertility, as studies have shown that the women below the age of 36 years who have frozen eggs have a better outcome in terms of pregnancy rate than women more than 36 years.  The risk of age‐related obstetrical complications like hypertension and the possibility of future unsuccessful treatment should also be kept in mind while taking decisions. Therefore extensive fertility and preconception counseling should be done and a planned fertility path should be undertaken by the young women.

Social egg freezing is a newer, yet a debatable issue. This practice of social egg freezing also implies negative social aspects and economic burden.  Some argue that egg freezing is indirectly encouraging women to have children at an advanced maternal age, which is associated with significantly increased risk of medical complications in pregnancy. The couple should be ready to raise their children near their retirement age which is again associated with financial and social obligations.

Though social egg freezing extends the window of opportunity for young women to have their own biological children, the challenges remain in form of high costs and low success rates, social and financial implications.  Women should be educated at a younger age to enable them to plan their reproductive years realistically and present to fertility clinics at a younger age.