Initially, freezing eggs ( oocyte cryopreservation) was intended mainly for women dealing with the possibility of a loss of fertility as a side effect of upcoming treatment, such as chemotherapy, for example. However, the technique is now used to offer women more flexible life planning as well. It means that women who cannot or who do not want to have children at the current time for private or professional reasons can have their eggs frozen and use them at a later time to get pregnant. The term ‘Social Freezing’ is now commonly used to designate egg freezing for non-medical reasons.
The number of eggs available to every woman is already fixed at birth, since no new eggs are developed over the course of a woman’s life. With age, this reserve of eggs shrinks.
This means that as a woman ages, two problems arise in terms of her fertility:
– The older a woman is, the fewer eggs are available for successful ovulation. This reduces the chances of fertilisation.
-Age also affects the quality of the eggs. As a rule of thumb, from around age 35, the likelihood of abnormalities, complications in pregnancy and miscarriages increases and the chances of becoming pregnant are reduced. This development actually starts before a woman turns 35, although the risk of adverse effects is significantly lower in younger women.
Egg freezing can increase the chances of pregnancy at a later date by retrieving healthy eggs as early as possible and storing them.