In recent years, and due to their precarious employment or sentimental stability, a growing number of women have decided to postpone their motherhood until they find a stable job or relationship. In order to become mothers at advanced ages, many of them choose to freeze their oocytes, which are preferably extracted before the age of 35, which is when they begin to lose quality.
The so-called “social freezing” became popular in 2015, when Facebook and Apple decided to finance the oocyte extraction and freezing treatment for their employees so that they could delay their motherhood during the years in which the companies considered them more productive at work.
According to the Spanish Fertility Society, the number of cryopreserved oocytes has increased significantly from 2010 to 2019.
The oocyte retrieval process is carried out as follows: first, the patient’s ovarian reserve is analyzed and the growth of the oocytes is stimulated, then hormones are injected into the patient, and finally the oocytes are extracted and frozen in liquid nitrogen. This process is known as vitrification.
These oocytes, which will be used later in assisted reproduction techniques such as in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, can be stored for years while maintaining their viability. They could be fertilized with sperm from the father or from a donor. Up to three embryos could be transferred to the mother’s uterus.
It must be taken into account that the women who resort to these procedures are usually fertile women, who could become pregnant naturally and who have decided to give up motherhood during their youth and undergo assisted reproduction techniques years later. In case of becoming pregnant at an advanced age, they would be less fertile and the risks during pregnancy would increase due to the older age of the woman.
In the same way, and given that the chances of success of these techniques are limited, the probability that they will finally be mothers of a healthy child is lower than that of a pregnancy achieved naturally at a younger age.
Numerous studies confirm an increase in morbidity in children born through assisted reproduction techniques compared to those born naturally, data that should be provided in all cases to female candidates to allow them to make a properly informed decision.
In addition, it is an expensive treatment, since the extraction costs approximately 2,500 euros and the medication approximately 1,500. To this must be added the amount derived from the need to repeat the process when the expected result is not obtained, so that budget could double. For this reason, access to these techniques seems restricted to women with a medium-high socio-economic profile.