Freeze Now, Conceive Later

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Every year that passes is just another reminder to Nicole that time is running short.

So, as CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports, this single 33-year-old New York accountant, who declined to give her last name, has decided to take an extraordinary medical step. In an effort to increase her chances of getting pregnant later in life, Nicole is planning on freezing her eggs now and putting them at the country's first commercial egg bank.

"It takes great pressure off of you thinking that you have to rush out there, to meet someone and settle with someone that you are not optimally happy with," she says.

Dr. Thomas Kim, the director of CHA Fertility in Los Angeles says flash freezing eggs to preserve them is unique.

"We can freeze their good quality eggs when they are young. Then they decide to have a baby, and we can use them later on," says Kim.

Freezing and thawing eggs is a delicate process with only a 20 percent chance of medical success. But for Stacy Wright, 27, single and living with painful endometriosis that could force the removal of her ovaries, it may be the only way she ever could conceive.

"I owe it to myself," she says. "I have to try. If it fails then I know I tried and I can have some closure then I can know it wasn't meant to be, but I tried."

It's an expensive process. The fertility treatments and surgery to extract the eggs can cost as much as $12,000. Storage fees will run about $500 a year.

But even with that price tag, some women say it's worth it to be able to have a career first and hopefully have children later. But others think it's a trend driven completely by profit rather than science.

Dr. Richard Paulson, who works at the fertility center at the University of Southern California, says the science behind freezing eggs hasn't changed since the 1980s. He believes the procedure is rarely used because most women, even older women, have a better chance of getting pregnant naturally than with frozen eggs.

"Women have become more aware that their biological clock exists," says Paulson. "With our current understanding of technology, her chance of getting pregnant with her own eggs at 40 are higher than pregnancy with her eggs frozen at the age of 30," he says.

But Kim says he is buying women time for those who might otherwise be childless.

"Let's say you are 39 and your eggs are no longer good then you can come back and use the frozen eggs," says Kim. "Sort of like an insurance policy."

Of Kim's patients, six of 28 women got pregnant using their thawed eggs. Kim believes the statistics will improve as more women opt for egg freezing.

Still, even with its current unproven track record, there are women who are willing to take the gamble.
  • Jaime Holguin

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