Why Egg Freezing Is an Impossible Choice

Last fall, I went to an egg freezing cocktail hour. The downstairs bar of the glossy SoHo hotel was thronged with women in heels and sleek business attire. Club music thumped, cameras flashed, and I narrowly missed being hit by a videographer angling a tripod over the crowd. The evening was hosted by Eggbanxx, a startup that sells financing for egg freezing, framed as fertility insurance for the forward-thinking urban professional woman.

At the bar, where they were serving up free “Banxxtini” cocktails, I spoke with a 27-year-old who was “95 percent sure” she would freeze her eggs and a 36-year-old data scientist who claimed to be “skeptical.” Together, we filed into a screening room adjoining the bar, where three New York-area endocrinologists lectured us on a new technique that, they claimed, could freeze our reproductive chances in time. Female fertility declines sharply at 37, due to a decline in the quantity and quality of eggs. But when women use fresh eggs from a young donor in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle—a process in which fresh eggs are harvested from the donor, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus—live birth rates rise across ages to 56 percent.1 Now, thanks to a new freezing technology, women could become their own future egg donors, rather than relying on the fresh eggs of another, younger donor. “It’s good to be empowered as a woman,” beamed Janelle Luk, a doctor at Neway Fertility.

Nicole Noyes of the NYU Fertility Center, lean and intense, spoke energetically about egg freezing, a field in which she was an early leader. She began with a reassuring screenshot of her recent study finding no higher risk of birth defects among 900 children born from frozen eggs.2 Her clinic’s results seemed incredible: If a woman freezes her eggs at 35, Noyes told us, and uses them at, say, 43, she has a 50 percent chance at a live birth from one IVF cycle. Compare that to her unaided chances of conception (using IVF or naturally) at age 43: 5 percent each cycle. If she freezes her eggs later, at 38, her success rate for one IVF cycle dips to 37 percent. According to Noyes, success is determined by the age at which you froze the eggs. “31 is as long as I’d wait,” she told one questioner in a swarm of audience members, many still clutching purple cartons of popcorn, after the presentation. I had lost sight of the 27-year-old, but I spotted the data scientist hurrying up an aisle to sign up.

I found myself considering egg freezing again

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