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Hitting the pause button: More women exploring fertility options amid ongoing pandemic

Fertility clinics are seeing a surge in activity, including women who are interested in freezing eggs and embryos.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- Early on, there was anticipation of a 'baby boom' during the pandemic, but instead fertility clinics have noticed an increase in the number of women looking to freeze their eggs.

Dr. William Dodds is the director of the Fertility Center, a reproductive center with four locations across West Michigan. He says that amid the pandemic, and while more women are working from home, it’s a good time to start exploring the option of freezing eggs or embryos.

“I like the fact that patients have choices," says Dr. Dodds. “Because of the pandemic we haven’t been able to travel or to do many of the normal things and so many people have said you know what, I want to take care of this fertility thing. And they’re working from home and its much easier to manipulate your schedule and get it done. What I like about it is that it empowers women and it empowers young families and I think that’s cool. They have more freedom in their decision making and I think that’s a great thing.”

According to ExtendFertility.com, "Like all medical technology, egg freezing techniques have advanced significantly over the past three decades. The most noteworthy improvement was the development of vitrification, a flash-freezing method that lowers the chance that damaging ice crystals will form inside a frozen egg." 

Dr. Hanh Cottrell is a reproductive specialist with IVF Michigan Fertility, a fertility clinic with multiple locations across Michigan and Ohio. She says the ability to freeze eggs is a great option for reproductive aged women to consider. 

“We’re so good at freezing eggs and embryos, people always ask me how long will they stay frozen," recalls Dr. Cottrell. "They can indefinitely stay frozen. So hypothetically, even say if you're not ready to build your family in say 5 or 10 years you can reconsider it at a later time. Sometimes families are done building their families, and so they donate an embryo to other couples and that’s where sometimes you’ll see decades that these embryos are frozen and know there is a baby from two decades ago.”

Last month, ABC News reported that a baby was born from a 27-year-old embryo, which broke records!

Drs. William Dodds and Hanh Cottrell agree that while there’s a high success rate associated with the freezing process, it’ not a guarantee to a future family.

"With regards to fertility, age is so important, says Cottrell. "You can potentially buy time or freeze time in a sense and it can potentially give you a better chance. There’s a growing interest and a more proactive employees and employers are providing fertility benefits.” 

"Young couples have more freedom in their decision making, and I think that’s a great thing," says Dodds.

Dr. Dodds estimates that the average cost of freezing eggs in the Midwest costs between $4,000 and $5,000. 

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