Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Jake Anderson with FertilityIQ.com, a platform that gives patients and doctors the opportunity to contribute and share all things related to infertility. The site covers various topics like general diagnosis, in vitro fertilization (IVF), LGTBQ, fertility treatments, but we wanted to know how patient and visitors to the site felt about fertility preservation (specifically relating to egg freezing). Here is what Jake had to say:
“At FertilityIQ, we hear from a few thousand people every year expressing their interest in elective egg freezing, with this year being no different. They come to us from all over the US to share their personal journey and experiences with us. If they were to collectively give you advice on the overall experience, here is what we think they’d say:
First, be prepared for the possibility of having to do more than one cycle. Why? The likelihood that your eggs will work will depend on a few different factors like; the age at which they were preserved, the quality of the eggs, and the actual number of eggs that were frozen. This notion compels many women to return back for multiple cycles and according to our data, those who have elected to preserve their eggs will go through an average of 2.2 cycles before getting pregnant.
The second thing to note is that by freezing your eggs you reduce the risk of having complications later on, but this is not always a 100% guarantee. The eggs that you freeze today will be of better quality than the ones retrieved tomorrow, but that’s about the only thing that you should expect. The reality is that until the eggs are warmed, fertilized and transferred, no one will actually know if they will work. If you decide to freeze your eggs, you do increase your odds of having children in the future, but remember that it is not a guarantee that you will be able to have a child.
Third, Many women think of egg freezing like running an errand and look at the clinic that performs the procedure as a commodity. Finding the right fertility clinic and getting the proper treatment does matter. Be cautious, as most clinics have never warmed a single frozen egg and have no track record in this capacity. A clinic that bungles your case can refund your money, but they cannot replace your younger eggs. Make sure that you do your homework in advance and find a reputable fertility clinic.
Fourth, most women who need to use their frozen eggs return to their initial fertility clinic. Thus, I’d want you to select a clinic not with an “egg freezer” mindset (I’m here to check the box), but instead with an IVF patient’s mindset (I’m here to have a baby because Plan A didn’t work out). You need to know if your clinic can fertilize eggs, grow embryos and transfer them properly. If you come back to use those eggs and they are misused at a clinic that has less success with IVF, your foresight and money could be in jeopardy. Consider published success rates and other factors before choosing a clinic to freeze your eggs. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) can be a good place to start your research. You can visit their website at www.sart.org
The Fifth concern and question that many of us face are based on preserving embryos. Should I freeze embryos instead of eggs? For those considering egg freezing, it is likely that they are still waiting for the right partner, so fertilizing those precious eggs with donor sperm at this juncture is just thought. However, for those with potential life partners sharing the same goal of having a child or children someday, preserving embryos can be a compelling option.
Fertility preservation may also be a great option for those patients that have been diagnosed with cancer and who need to undergo intense treatments. Preserving your eggs prior to chemotherapy can still provide you with the opportunity to achieve parenthood. Egg freezing whether elective or not is new and we’re lucky: had many of us been born a decade earlier, this wouldn’t have been an option. This also means there’s a lot we’re still figuring out.
The last thing that I would like to point out is to not be timid in asking pointed questions of your doctor. We always encourage and suggest that you to ask questions because knowing where the uncertainty lies is crucial in making this choice.”
This guest blog was written by Jake Anderson with FertilityIQ. Jake and his wife, Deborah, run FertilityIQ where over 70% of US fertility patients come to get data on treatments, costs, practitioners and more. Previously, Jake was a Partner at Sequoia Capital and graduated from Duke and Harvard.