National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) ends with ongoing conversation about reproductive independence. Just two days ago, Resolve Board member Risa Levine shared with fellow Board member & CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota the personal story of her battle over frozen embryos. Ms. Levine articulately and passionately shared the pain that she endured in negotiating with the man who was to become her ex-husband.
Sofia Vergara & Risa Levine | Their Battles Over Frozen Embryos
Leading us back to NIAW – this year is about #youarenotalone yet the battle that is ensuing publically between Sofia Vergara and her ex-fiance, Nick Loeb begs the question about whether being alone in some aspects of your life is really unwelcome.
Two stunning points:
- Freezing eggs avoids the battle that can occur when there is a break up or break down in a relationship.
- Freezing eggs gives a woman complete reproductive independence.
Freezing Your Eggs Can Help Avoid Frozen Embryo Battle
Lisa Schuman, LCSW, Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT’s Director of Mental Health Services is not just jumping in on the most recent, up front and center conversation in the media about egg freezing. Egg freezing is THE hot topic almost everywhere you look right now. There are egg freezing seminars and parties and it’s hot and it’s controversial and everyone wants in on the conversation. In fact, we’re having an egg freezing event too. (Read below for details.)
The difference is that Ms. Schuman has been involved in the conversation for over ten years, in real ways. In ways that matter. Through practical and scientific research, including a 9 year study concluded in 2014, Ms. Schuman has been leading the way about proving how women’s lives can change with the advent of egg freezing. As the Chair of the Oocyte Cryopreservation Task Force for the Mental Health Group for the ASRM, she’s been an integral part of this history making.
Why Freeze Your Eggs? The Practical & Emotional Perspectives
Ms. Schuman sees the conversation having two very important components, the practical and the emotional perspectives. Although these two perspectives are intricately woven together when it comes to women making choices about their family building options, here is a short synopsis of each aspect:
Egg Freezing for Practical Reasons
Egg freezing is changing the present and future as surely and definitively as the birth control pill did, by giving women control over a different aspect of their own reproductive lives. The power over our own lives that the pill made accessible was how many children and when do we have them? Egg freezing continues along that path with a variation; can we have them later? And the answer is often yes.
Many of the controversial comments made about egg freezing are hauntingly similar to objections about the birth control pill and about fertility treatment when it began. Remember “test tube babies?” Reactions to this technology in the mainstream media include everything from being manipulative to diabolical. Every new technology has risks and benefits and yes, expenses. It is clear over the last fifty years that the birth control pill did indeed change the way that women live their lives and their reproductive autonomy. (Interesting side note that only married couples were initially allowed to use the birth control pill.)
With more and more women in the workforce and as the age at which women are having children continues to climb, having the possibility to have your own genetically related children is a relief to many. Egg freezing does not provide a guarantee but it does give us possibilities that we never had until now. Ms. Schuman’s research has shown that women who freeze eggs do not respond differently to treatment than the general IVF population and do not have a higher incidence of ovarian dysfunction. So despite some women’s concerns or premonitions that they will have difficulty attaining a pregnancy, Ms. Schuman’s study saw no difference. In other studies and clinical experience with hundreds of egg freezing patients, she found that egg freezing helps them feel empowered and more confident to move forward with their lives.
Egg Freezing for Emotional Reasons
While some of the patients she studied and worked with haven’t felt successful in the dating/partnering/marriage arena, freezing their eggs has taken the edge off the anxiety surrounding family building. They know that they have availed themselves of a technology that can give them options. And because Ms. Schuman has been in this conversation, she is able to report for us that the average age for a woman freezing her eggs at some clinics has gone from 38, down to 36. We know that younger is better but studies have shown that women don’t regret doing it, even at the older end of the spectrum. These women may have not yet found the right partner, may have medical issues or personal or career conflicts that prevent them from having a child at a younger age but now they don’t have to feel trapped. There are options.
Dr. Spencer Richlin weighs in on this issue by reminding us that since the egg freezing technology has been developed and matured, women have more choices. They have the choice to delay family building. And, they have the choice NOT to have embryos with someone who may not truly be the co-parent and partner that they are looking for.
Preserving Your Fertility Through Egg Freezing – Event at Barcelona Stamford
Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut is hosting an egg freezing event as promised above. We promise to make it fun, informative and educational. With Lisa Schuman, LCSW and Dr. Spencer Richlin (board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and Surgical Director of RMACT), we invite you to join us on Monday, April 27, 6pm – 8pm At Barcelona Wine Bar Stamford, 222 Summer Street, Stamford, CT
Whether you are single, pursuing your career, or just aren’t ready to start a family at this time, egg freezing can give you options. Please join our egg freezing experts, Spencer Richlin, MD, and Lisa Schuman, LCSW, to learn more about the process and if it is right for you.
Tapas & refreshments will be served. This event is free but registration is required. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form here.
Interested in learning more? Check out the American Society for Reproductive Medicine & these papers on egg freezing:
- 2014 Nurses Research Award: 1. A 9-Year Analysis Of Trends In Ovarian Response To Stimulation In Elective Oocyte Cryopreservation And In Vitro Fertilization Patients
- 2014 ASRM accepted abstract Poster: WOMEN pursuing oocyte cryopreservation for non-medical purposes are more likely to achieve >10 oocytes if their FSH is <11, regardless of age
- 2013 ASRM Symposium: New Developments in Egg Freezing: Psychological perspectives
- 2013 Nurses Research Award: women pursuing non-medical oocyte cryopreservation would consider non-genetic methods of family building such as adoption or ovum donation
- 2013 ASRM Accepted Abstract Poster: Psychology of egg freezing patients: Would they consider single motherhood if they did not marry in some specified time?
- 2011 Pacific Coast Reproductive society award:Women Undergoing Oocyte Cryopreservation For Non Medical Purposes Openly Share Information About Their Treatment To Their Family And Friends.
- 2011 ASRM Accepted abstract Poster: Trends In Age In Non-Medical Oocyte Cryopreservation
- 2009 Symposium: Controversial Topics Related to Medical and Non-Medical Oocyte Cryopreservation