Freezing eggs not suitable for every woman: expert

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 - Page 3

With an increased number of women in recent years seeking to have their eggs frozen for future fertilization, an expert in infertility yesterday said that human egg preservation is not a procedure suitable for everyone, suggesting that women should have children before the age of 35.

“It is better to get pregnant early than to have your eggs frozen,” said Li Hui-po (黎惠波), who is a US-trained specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Chung Shan Hospital in Taipei.

Li said the number of patients inquiring about the procedure has skyrocketed from two to three patients per month in the past to about 20 per month over the past six months.

The ages of the women ranged from 20 to 50, he said, adding that freezing eggs has become a topical subject in society as more women join the work force, and delay marriage and motherhood.

One of his patients was a 26-year-old single woman, Li said.

The woman said she wanted to have her eggs frozen because she had no plans to get married or become pregnant in the next few years, but was worried that if she missed the so-called “golden period” for bearing children — defined as before the age of 35 — her eggs would be “too old to be of good quality,” Li said.

However, her request was turned down because she was still young. In addition, she did not suffer from any disease that would affect her fertility, he said.

Another patient was in a different situation, Li added, saying that the woman, who was 30 years old when she consulted him this year, was diagnosed with cancer in June last year.

She asked for her eggs to be frozen for preservation because she feared she would not have any healthy eggs after undergoing aggressive cancer treatment.

He therefore stored 22 of her eggs in liquefied nitrogen at minus-196°C, Li said.

However, not all frozen eggs can be revived after defrosting, he said, adding that the pregnancy rate is related to the age at which people have their eggs frozen.

“After the age of 35, the quality of a woman’s eggs gradually declines,” he said.