GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As research advances, more women are choosing to freeze their eggs.
They're pushing back having kids, but keeping their eggs from growing older with them. With that, new options for freezing eggs are emerging: pop-up boutique-style stores are a growing trend.
Fertility doctors warn they might not be what they seem.
The pop-up boutiques are growing increasingly popular on the coasts, offering the service for a flat fee in a sometimes spa-like environment. Some doctors warn the procedure might be unnecessary, adding the process isn't as simple as it might seem.
Whether women are suffering from things like cancer or endometriosis, or are just looking to stop their biological clock, egg freezing is becoming an increasingly popular procedure.
"The message out there that women do have the opportunity to freeze eggs and to preserve their fertility, so they don’t have to worry about their biological clock and that they may lose their fertility," said Dr. William Dodds, a reproductive endocrinologist at The Fertility Center in Grand Rapids. "We saw a big uptick in that in just the last two years.”
Dodds says more women than ever are choosing to freeze their eggs for personal reasons, so their eggs don’t age along with them. Pop-up boutique-style egg freezing is on the rise, hosting parties complete with champagne to learn more about the process.
Some locations offer the anesthesia, retrieval and a year of storage for about $5,000. Dodds says it starts around $3,500 at his office.
"I want women to have all their choices and I’m fairly open-minded to different techniques and things," said Dodds. "My biggest concern though would be that the patient gets properly counseled, like do they even need it?"
Dodds says women might be jumping into something prematurely.
"I’m a little concerned when it seems like something’s being sold," said Dodds. "I think it’s good to talk to someone and say, 'Hey if I have this blood test can you tell me whether my ovarian function is good? I don’t need to do this at all. I don’t need to spend any money. I’m reassured'.”
A blood test can show whether or not a woman is a good candidate for egg freezing because the procedure might be unnecessary.
"I think the danger is that there’s a group of people that want to do everything possible and without proper counseling they may do actually more than they need to do," said Dodds. "Whenever you do a medical procedure the risk is extremely low, but it’s not zero.”
While the boutiques may seem to be more affordable, they don’t include the costs of drugs beforehand to stimulate the ovaries to release more eggs or the fees afterwards to store them.
The facilities usually don’t store the eggs onsite or do the IVF process when a woman is ready to use the eggs. At the end of the day, Dodds says to do your research to find out the option that’s best for you.
"Find out your ovarian reserve, see if you really have a problem," said Dodds. "I think secondly you want to go to some place reputable that can give you solid information about success of egg retrieval, their track record of proficiency in terms of then fertilization later and creating embryos that will lead to pregnancy.”
While it’s different for everyone, Dodds says if you’re curious about your ovarian reserve, women should ask their OB/GYN for the blood test starting around age 28.
To learn more about The Fertility Center, visit their website.