LEAWOOD, Kan. -- Human eggs can be frozen so women who are delaying childbearing can use them later. A new study reveals the age by which women should freeze their eggs to get the best chance of having a baby later.
Natasha Porter learned in February that she has breast cancer. Then she learned that the chemotherapy to fight her cancer could cause her to become infertile. Porter is single.
"I plan to be in a relationship and to have a family. I have a lot of goals. I'm a very ambitious person," said Porter.
So at age 36, she had her eggs frozen at K.U.'s Center for Advanced Reproductive Medicine. It's an option for women facing cancer treatment and those who aren't but think they'll want children later when the quality and quantity of eggs in their bodies is diminished, making it more difficult to have a baby.
Here's how freezing works.
"You would start injections to grow eggs, we would monitor you and then you would have a surgical procedure to remove the eggs and then we would freeze those for you here on site," said Courtney Marsh, a reproductive endocrinologist at K.U.'s center.
Researchers wondered what is the best age for a woman to freeze her eggs. They found eggs frozen when a woman is 34 or younger give her the best chance of having a baby later. Still, Dr. Marsh says women older than 34 shouldn't be discouraged from doing it.
"They actually said in the article that up until 37, it probably makes sense even from a cost perspective," said Dr. Marsh.
Cost is what keeps many women from freezing their eggs. The retrieval procedure costs four to six thousand dollars. That doesn't include storage fees.
Because Porter has cancer, her egg freezing was covered by insurance. Even though she had it done at 36, she's confident she has frozen eggs that could one day result in a baby or babies.
"They were able to retrieve 25 eggs... so 25 kids," Porter said, laughing.
Potentially, 25 kids.
The study was in the journal "Fertility and Sterility." The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says more studies are needed before it can recommend that women freeze their eggs for the sole purpose of delaying childbearing. The group does recommend it for women like Porter who are going to have chemotherapy.