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'Quantum leap' in effectiveness of freezing eggs

March 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
At the age 40, actress Sofia Vergara from ABC's "Modern Family" plans to expand her family -- some day. Last week Vergara announced she's in the process of freezing her eggs. Thanks to new technology, freezing eggs for future use is a growing trend.

"I've always wanted children and I still want children," said Gabriela, a 39-year-old West Hollywood resident. But things weren't going as Gabriela had planned.

"And I turned around in my late 30s and I wasn't married and had never have been married and my circumstances weren't really right to have children at the moment," said Gabriela.

Waiting for the right moment could mean never having children. Gabriela knows the odds of getting pregnant get so much slimmer with age, so two years ago she decided to freeze her eggs.

"I felt empowered through the process. I felt like I was taking control of my life," said Gabriela.

"There's been a quantum leap in its effectiveness," said Dr. Mark Surrey, a medical director at the Southern California Reproductive Center.

Surrey says a flash-freezing technology called vitrification helps preserve eggs longer. The process involves self-injecting a medication that stimulates a woman's ovaries. Then the eggs are extracted, evaluated and frozen.

"At 40, you probably need to cryo-preserve 10 to 12 eggs to create a normal embryo, whereas at 30, maybe you only need four or five," Surrey said.

Gabriela underwent three egg-freezing cycles, costing about $15,000 each. It's very expensive, but she looks at it as an insurance policy, and it gives her peace of mind.

"I still hope to get naturally pregnant in my life," said Gabriela. "I may never even use the eggs that I froze, but it brings me a lot of comfort to know that they are there."

While women can freeze their eggs well into their 40s, Surrey says success rates are much better in women who do it in their late 20s and 30s.

Gabriela's eggs are good for another 10 years, but she'd really like to start a family sooner than that.

"I want the American dream," she said. "I want a lovely house and a couple of great kids and a man that I do this with."


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