The recent New York Times op-ed piece by Erin Callan, the chief financial officer and public face of the failed investment bank Lehman Brothers, should serve as a reminder to other women in high-powered careers that egg freezing can offer some protection agains regrets.
The 47-year-old Callan wrote that the sacrifices she made for her career and allowing Wall Street to take over her life were not worth it. She said she "sold herself short" by allowing work to come before her friends, her marriage and her family. Her first marriage ended in divorce, and now she is remarried and wants to have children.
“I have been trying in vitro fertilization for several years,” she wrote. “We are still hoping.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control's Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Report for 2010, the percentage of IVF cycles resulting in live birth for women older than 44 who undergo IVF with fresh embryos from non-donor eggs is only 1 percent.
The birth rates from donor eggs are a different story. This is because the fresh or frozen donor eggs come from young women; therefore the success rates are higher. Many fertility clinics will perform donor egg transfers on women up to and even over age 50.
Freezing your eggs when you are young can provide you with your own "donor eggs" that are ready and waiting for when you want to start a family. (And that doesn't necessarily mean after a high-profile ouster from a doomed Wall Street investment bank.) While most women in their 20s are not ready to consider the step, this is an excellent decade to freeze eggs (and most donor eggs are coming from women in their early 20s). So if you are on a career trajectory that doesn't leave much time for baby-making, consider egg freezing as an option even if it seems like you have all the time in the world. Many fertility experts say the egg freezing technology is beneficial for women up until around age 38, and some will do the procedure for a woman over 40 because treatment is individualized and every woman is different.
But the thing to keep in mind is that the older you are, the fewer eggs you have and the more likely your existing eggs are to have aneupolidy (genetic abnormalities), which lessens your chances of getting pregnant and increases your chances of miscarriage.
While many of her colleagues are back on Wall Street, Callan has chosen to live a life out of the spotlight on Sanibel Island in Florida. We wish her all the luck in the world with her desire to build a family.
March 17, 2014