Thinking about freezing your eggs? Your options explained

The right time to start a family is in theory when you are ready, but inconveniently human biology is programmed for women to be at their most fertile when they are relatively young. If you’re not in the right place to have a baby – for either medical or social reasons – you might be thinking about ways to preserve your options.

While some women naturally conceive well into their forties, there’s no guarantee of fertility at that stage. Premature menopause, experienced by about 1 in 100 women before the age of 40, can add stress to those desiring children in the future, but not ready to start a family now.

Why fertility falls at 35

To get pregnant you need healthy eggs. A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have. Once she starts menstruating, she produces a mature egg once a month. This is her ‘best egg’. There are many other immature eggs or oocytes in her ovaries that never make it to this stage and just degrade. So, by the time you are about 35, the store is very depleted, and eggs continue to be lost at a greater rate until about 45-55 when a woman reaches menopause.

After 35 years the eggs also tend to be of poorer quality and so the chance of conception reduce and the possibility of miscarriage increase.

Egg freezing for social reasons

Where starting a family immediately is not feasible or desired, egg freezing is a popular way for women to preserve their fertility and give them options for the future. The age at which a woman chooses to freeze her eggs is the most important factor, affecting her chances of eventually having a baby and the optimum window to freeze is before she reaches 35.

Egg freezing for medical reasons

There are many situations where a woman might choose to freeze her eggs for medical reasons. These include: genetic conditions where a woman may be unable to carry a pregnancy; ahead of chemotherapy, a process that can reduce the quality of eggs and may cause a reduction in ovarian reserve; before a surgical procedure that may damage the ovaries, or where there is a family history of premature ovarian failure.

Fertility preservation is also a viable choice for transgender patients before undergoing gender reassignment treatment, offering the possibility of having genetically related children in the future.

Supporting your egg
freezing journey

Sharleen Hapuarachi

Dr Sharleen Hapuarachi, Consultant Gynaecologist at Bourn Hall Clinic, features in a new documentary ‘Egg Freezing and Me’ which highlights how egg freezing is one of the fastest growing treatments in the UK.

“Irrespective of whether a woman is freezing her eggs for medical or social reasons, the age at which she does so is the most important factor affecting her chance of eventually having a baby,” she says. “The optimum window to freeze is before she reaches 35.

“Egg freezing for some women can be empowering and our advice would be that if freezing your eggs is something you would like to explore then don’t leave it too late if you want to maximise your chances of success. We will support you in your journey.”

View ‘Egg Freezing and Me’ on BBC iPlayer.

What does egg freezing involve?

The process involves the use of fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce a number of eggs. Then, the eggs are collected using a minor surgical procedure. Once collected, the eggs can be frozen and safely stored in our secure egg bank for future use.

Egg Bank – preserving your options for the future

At Bourn Hall we have established state-of-the-art egg banks. These facilities enable the freezing and storage of a greater number of eggs, providing more options for individuals considering fertility preservation.

By leveraging our expertise and cutting-edge technology, we empower individuals to take control of their reproductive journey and preserve their opportunity to have a family in the future.

Egg freezing at Bourn Hall

Enhancing accessibility for egg freezing

To increase awareness about the importance of considering fertility options before age becomes a limiting factor, Bourn Hall offers a reduced-cost treatment to eligible women under 35 who are willing to donate some of their eggs as egg-sharers.

Sharing eggs is a highly valued altruistic action, benefiting women unable to use their own eggs for IVF. Egg donors receive counselling before making this choice.

With this offer, eligible women will receive their egg freezing treatment, including their IVF medication, the egg collection procedure, and storage for the first year for a heavily reduced fee. The aim is to make egg freezing more accessible and help increase the number and diversity of available eggs for other patients.

Bourn Hall respects patient choice and the right to try for a baby – and offers a fully transparent and individualised approach to the options and treatments available. To find out more about egg freezing or get in touch visit our treatments page on egg freezing.

First posted on 21 March 2019. Updated 20 June 2023. Further revised 14 March 2024. 

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