Preserving Fertility for Later

Doctors say egg-freezing also option for healthy women who want kids in the future

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    Egg-freezing is typically used for women with cancer, but doctors say it can also be an option for women who are not ready for motherhood now but are certain they want children later.

    "They need to know the options," Dr. J. Michael Putman said. "For a woman who is a career business woman who suddenly decides at 39 or 40, well I''d better freeze some eggs because at 44 I'm going to have a child, that's too late."

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    Doctors say egg-freezing is an option for women not yet ready for motherhood.

    But even though the technology has improved, egg freezing has such a short track record that many doctors still consider it experimental, he said.

    "We may successfully freeze them, we may thaw them successfully, we may fertilize them successfully and still may not have a successful pregnancy," he said.

    Putnam, at Baylor Dallas, has done in vitro fertilization for more than 20 years and recently launched an egg-freezing program.

    Tamara Metcalfe, 30, had her eggs harvested and frozen after she was diagnosed with a blood cancer. Facing treatments that could make her infertile, Metcalfe consulted with her family and pastor.

    "I'm at peace with the cancer, but a lot of it is because I know my fertility is intact, my eggs are intact, and I'll have the chance to be a mom some day, no matter what else happens," she said.

    Metcalfe, who is single, was working as a television reporter when she was diagnosed and thought she had plenty of time to reach her other goal of being a mother. Her cancer was at the most advanced stage when she was diagnosed, she said.

    But she said she thinks the practice is also worthwhile for women who are not sick.

    "I think a lot of people are in the same boat as I am, in the sense that they're thinking having a child is the most precious gift you can have," she said.

    Her friend, Tracy Dodd, 29, is also considering it.

    "Having kids right now -- it's not in the immediate future, but I don't want to wait too late," she said.

    The procedure is expensive. It's not usually covered by insurance, and can cost $10,000 or more, plus annual fees to store the eggs.