HealthLinks Charleston July/August 2023

66 | www. Char l es tonPhys i c i ans . com | www.Hea l thL i nksChar l es ton . com C H A R L E S T ON COU N T Y M E D I C A L S OC I E T Y FROZEN IN TIME: MORE WOMEN ARE FREEZING THEIR EGGS By Theresa Stratford Tick. Tick. Tick. The biological clock is an alarming, continuous ghost that haunts many women who want to have children, especially those who are sailing through the business world and other priorities well into their 30s. The clock is an ominous reference to the fact that the number of viable eggs that women produce declines – rapidly for some – as they age. However, medical advances have helped women turn back their biological clocks; in fact, there is an uptick in the number of women who want to preserve their fertility by freezing viable eggs. “Over the last two years, I have had more and more consults for fertility preservation and more specifically for egg freezing for females,” said Dr. Jeris Cox, owner of Adore Fertility in Mount Pleasant. She attributed this uptick to the easier access to women’s health information and the fact that social media has created a more comfortable space for women to talk about their fertility journeys. “In addition, more celebrities have opened up about their fertility journeys, egg freezing and even some potential regrets. This has brought female fertility into the spotlight and allowed more women to take control of their own health long term,” Dr. Cox explained. Women are born with a finite number of eggs – they will not make more. They lose eggs without even knowing it and before they have had the chance to use them prior to menstruation. Among the approximately 1 million eggs women are born with, only about 300 to 400 will be ovulated throughout a woman’s life, according to Dr. Cox. “In our mid-to-late 30s, our egg pool has not only drastically decreased in size, but the stability and quality of those eggs to create life also decreases,” she added. “In the end, the younger the age of our eggs when they are used, the more likely to have success in creating a baby naturally or with preservation.” Egg freezing is the process of harvesting eggs from a woman’s ovaries and freezing them until the woman is ready to get pregnant. “Female fertility preservation allows a woman to take eggs that she would naturally be losing each month and save them for use later in life,” Dr. Cox noted. “These younger eggs have a much higher likelihood of creating babies because they are younger and healthier.” As part of the two-week process, women undergo 10 days of hormone injections with fertility drugs that stimulate multiple follicles to grow in the ovaries in hopes of maturing several eggs at once. The mature eggs are then collected through a painless procedure. Once retrieved, they are flash frozen and stored at ultra-cold temperatures. When the eggs are ready to be used, they are thawed and combined with sperm to create embryos. Any embryos that develop can then be implanted in the uterus. Female fertility preservation allows a woman to take eggs that she would naturally be losing each month and save them for use later in life. “ “