RALEIGH, N.C. – What if you can freeze time? That’s exactly what tens of thousands of women are hoping to do with their eggs – a once-controversial procedure the nation’s fertility doctors are saying should no longer be considered experimental.
Nikki Kourie, who works in financial services in Raleigh, is one woman who plans to freeze her eggs.
“The time is not right, right now, for me to have a baby,” she said.
Kourie, 28, said she’ll be freezing her eggs in a few months. She is one of a rapidly growing number of women who want to focus on their careers first.
“My fiance and I are finally at that point where financially we have a house and getting more settled,” she said. “We don’t want to just, ‘Oh, let’s have a baby.’ We want to still live our life and go traveling and go do something, things we couldn’t do before financially.”
The practice of freezing eggs has long been considered experimental, but recently, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine said that is no longer the case with enough successful cases around the country. The ASRM published guidelines for the practice Oct. 19.
Dr. Sameh Kamal Toma, who started his fertility center in Cary more than 20 years ago, said freezing eggs has become popular in recent years “because that’s when it turned from a research protocol to a routine procedure.”
“Before this egg freezing, they really didn’t have a choice if they decided to put off child bearing until later,” Toma said. “We had a very difficult time to get them pregnant.”
The process of freezing an egg is delicate. They are carefully taken out and prepared under a microscope. After the embryologists prepare the eggs, they put them into a liquid nitrogen tank, where it’s a negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit. That is where they remain until being used five, 10 or even 30 years later.
The process remains far from perfect. Toma said 60 percent is “a good success rate.”
“The success rate depends on the age of the women when she goes through the process,” Toma said.
Kourie said she is aware that there are no guarantees, but said she has confidence because “Dr. Toma is one of the best.”
She said her decision was inspired by pop culture and the likes of Kim Kardashian, who froze her eggs last year.
“You want to establish your career before you take that time off from maternity leave,” Kourie said. “Otherwise, you’re going to be behind. Men aren’t going to take maternity leave. If you take it, and they’re not, you’re going to be behind.”
The process of freezing eggs can cost more than $7,000 and is not covered with insurance. But Kourie said it’s worth it and isn’t concerned about being judged negatively because of her decision.
“I’m confident in my decision,” she said. “It’s my body, it’s my eggs, it’s what I’m doing with them.”
Sometimes, she said, “nature needs a little help.”
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