Egg Freezing Offers Longer-Term Family Planning

National statistics show more women are choosing to wait to have children later in life.

According to a CDC report, the number of American women who have children after 35 is growing. With age, however, comes potential pregnancy complications or infertility risks.

NBC 7 followed one 30-something year old woman as she navigated through the egg freezing process.

She decided to freeze her eggs to give her peace of mind in case she doesn’t meet the right guy any time soon. She is also career-driven, highly educated and isn’t ready to settle down just yet.

The woman we followed was Angela LaChica, a 34 year old owner of the athlete management firm LaChica Sports.

LaChica’s career has always been important to her. She’s worked in the sports industry for 20 years, advising some of the biggest names in the NBA, NFL and MLB.

“I just love what I do and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” LaChica said.

She would also love to one day start a family. But because her business is growing and she’s having fun, she’s not ready to give it all up yet. She says she’s freezing her eggs to gain control of the situation.

“Essentially it’s taking the keys away from Mother Nature and saying, ‘I’m driving this bus, and I’ll be in control of what happens,’” LaChica said.

Dr. Michael Kettel, medical director at the San Diego Fertility Center said the prototype for a woman who wants to freeze her eggs is someone who’s single, hasn’t found that life partner to raise her family with and is intelligent enough to know that time matters.

“Fertility begins to significantly decline after 35, and there’s another big hit at 37, and then a huge one at 40,” Dr. Kettel said.

Dr. Kettel said attempts to freeze eggs have been happening for decades, but until recently the technology wasn’t very good.

Now unfertilized eggs can be frozen. Before only fertilized eggs were viable which means women needed a partner. He said vitrification is a relatively new technology that enhances the chances of successfully freezing eggs.

“The survival rate of eggs using slow freeze is in the 10 to 30 percent range, whereas the survival rate using the rapid freeze technology is in the 90 percent range,” Kettel said.

This new technology is one of the reasons egg freezing has gained so much mainstream attention lately.

Just last year, two companies, Apple and Facebook, announced they would cover the costs of the procedure for their female employees who choose to do it.

Celebrities like Sofia Vergara and Joana Krupa have also decided to freeze their eggs, and speak about it publicly.

LaChica got her eggs frozen locally at the San Diego Fertility Center in Carmel Valley. She said the process was rough on her body, but she’s happy she did it.

After going in for her first consultation, LaChica was put on birth control pills for about a month. LaChica also had to have several internal ultrasounds, and give herself hormone injections for about two weeks.

“I was very, very fatigued, day in and day out,” she said, referring to her time during the hormone injections.

The egg retrieval process only takes about 20 minutes, but it’s done in an operating room under anesthesia.

“I’m barely coming out of anesthesia and Dr. Kettel grabs my shoulder and says we got 22 eggs! He was so excited,” she recalled.

LaChica said she was in pain for several days after the surgery.

Looking back she’s happy to have done it, and says freezing her eggs gives her freedom to continue advancing in her career without the worry of her biological clock ticking.

“It’s just this freedom. It’s nice to know that all of my options are open at this point,” she said.

The egg freezing procedure costs at least $10,000 and there’s also no guarantee the eggs will be thawed and fertilized successfully in the future.

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