Many of us have heard of oocyte cryopreservation (egg cell freezing) because of how popular it's become among famous personalities in recent years. Sofia Vergara from the hit TV show Modern Family, pop singer Rita Ora and Celine Dion have all undergone the procedure, certainly not because it was trendy, but because it assures that no matter what may happen to them in the meantime, they'll still have the opportunity to reproduce using their own eggs and have their own biological children sometime in the future.
Human oocyte cryopreservation is a process where a woman's eggs are extracted and preserved for potential future use. The treatment originated in the 1960s as an experiment concerning the eggs of various non-human mammals. It has since evolved to incorporate human eggs and grown in popularity as word of the procedure continues to spread.
Egg freezing didn't really start to become well-known until 2014, when some of the world's top tech companies, Apple, Facebook, and Google, began announcing they would be offering egg freezing for their female employees as part of their benefits package.
The success of oocyte cryopreservation is highly dependent on age, as the number and quality of eggs extracted are greatly influenced by the age of the woman involved. There is a fertility timeline with different rates of successful live births among females of the following age brackets:
Age 30 and under: At least 12 eggs are required to have a 65% to 85% chance of a successful pregnancy.
Age 31 - 35: : 12 to 24 eggs are required to have the same 65% to 85% chance of a successful conception.
Age 35 and older: 24 eggs or more are required to have the same 65% to 85% chance of a successful conception.
The bottom line is that the younger you are, the better the quality of your eggs and the higher the chance of success. In some ways it's also less expensive because of the lower number of eggs you need to produce.
Your doctor will first determine the quality and quantity of your eggs through Ovarian Reserve Testing. There will be a screening for any infectious diseases you might be carrying. Your doctor will monitor your progress during the preparation stages by conducting multiple blood testings and ultrasound procedures. You will be injected with hormones to stimulate your ovaries to produce more eggs, prevent premature ovulation and help the eggs mature.
Once the eggs are ready, there is a retrieval process where you will be sedated while your doctor retrieves your eggs from its follicles. Immediately following the retrieval of your eggs, they will be stored in a freezer at subzero temperatures along with certain cryoprotectant substances that help to preserve eggs over an extended period. At this point, you'll need to rest for an entire week before resuming your regular activities.
Advantages of Egg Freezing:
You can postpone becoming a mother until you feel you're ready.
You will have more freedom to focus on your career and other important life choices because of the significantly reduced pressure you'll face with respect to having children while you're still young. With oocyte cryopreservation you're eggs remain young and healthy even after several years in the freezer.
If you need to undergo certain medical procedures, such as chemotherapy, which can negatively affect fertility and the ability to reproduce naturally, freezing your eggs in advance of the treatment will enable you to have children regardless of the outcome.
You can donate your eggs should you never choose to use them, or simply have them discarded.
Egg freezing can function as a “pregnancy insurance" of sorts if other females in your bloodline have tended to enter into menopause prematurely.
Not 100% successful in every situation. In fact, the odds of a successful pregnancy resulting after egg freezing still remain relatively low, all things considered.
While rare, egg freezing can potentially present a few fairly serious health risks.
Time-consuming. Numerous visits to the doctor are required throughout the entire preparation period.
It's expensive. At best, the procedure will cost several thousands of dollars, and at worst, if multiple attempts are required, as they often are, the costs can easily climb upwards of $30,000.
Frozen eggs have a lower success rate than embryo freezing or eggs that are fresh from the womb.
For the last 30+ years, I have focused on bringing together political parties, corporate competitors and disparate nations to foster quality leadership, diplomacy and results that better society, creating sustainable partnerships and profitable business models. Has it been easy? By no means. Rewarding? Immensely.
Here's what I learned along the way, how I did it, and how you can, too.
When I left Washington to enter the corporate world, I was asked to investigate and determine ways that companies were struggling to be successful in areas where major investments were being made. This meant meeting with and challenging key executives, staff and stakeholders, benchmarking against best in class competitors and making recommendations that change processes, cultural norms and internal ownership. The end goal was always to move the organization or activity to a higher level of performance. In other words, my job was to figure out what were the "boulders in the road" and move them. The boulders in many cases were people or projects they designed and held dear. Not surprisingly, my inquiries caused adverse reactions. Over time, as boulders turned into rocks, and rocks turned into pebbles, consensus came to bear, and goals were met that enabled the organizations, department owners within them, and society to thrive. My work – which had been unwelcomed by some – was accepted, and even appreciated, by those who had once been critical.
As a 26-year-old who was doing this for the first time and facing strong head winds expressed in highly personal ways, I sought advice from my father, an executive operating in a highly politicized arena. His letter is worn, but I keep it on my desk.
"I wish I could be there with you when you have to face these challenges...just remember to look beyond what is currently in your life and try to visualize what is unseen. Count your blessings and it will also help you challenge the crisis you are experiencing...Some of the greatest stumbling blocks I have ever faced have also resulted in being my greatest stepping-stones." His wise words encouraged me to turn managing complexity into an artform. As a U.S. Ambassador and the ﬁrst female Commissioner General to the World Expo, I was able to create an atmosphere of confidence amongst project investors which resulted in the first financial surplus in the history of US participation in a World's Fair. As CEO of FARE, I guided a major restructure to support food allergy research and received commitments of $75M within 12 months.
Here is what I learned along the way, including guidelines I follow each time I find myself facing a new or complex situation:
- Recognize that when there are different levels of real-time execution and a sense of urgency, the risk complexity is multiplied. Know what you want the organization or alliance to look like, speak with facts and build a roadmap to get there.
- Break down each problem, recognize the constants and the variables. Identify what is the same in each situation and what is unique.
- Itemize the constants. What characteristics are seen across the entire organization which are impediments to change? Fix those first.
- Identify the unique issues that are compounding the problem, e.g. finances, people, legal, channel relationships, history, culture and politics.
- Don't pretend to know what you don't know. It hurts your credibility. Keep asking: Why? How does x relate to y? Who makes that decision? Remember, as a change agent, you are not expected to be the subject matter expert, so feel confident and admit you don't know how "the thing" works. Your goal is to understand the pathway for how we ended up where we are today—a place none of us want to be.
- Move boulders out of the way for your team, so that really smart people who are committed to the new way of doing things can run as fast as they can without being tripped. Your job is to manage the complexity by keeping your eye on standards, governance, revenue, external perceptions, fiduciary responsibilities and long-term consequences. Adjust accordingly to avoid greater problems while continuing to move towards the long-term goal.
- Align incentives to change by identifying motivations to better maximize resources. View the situation from the perspective of the other person and determine what is most important to them. Unless the organization or situation is completely broken, you can find ways that everyone can feel a sense of ownership in the new way of operating. Although there is a sense of urgency, you can move more quickly by bringing your critics along if you frame your recommendations in a manner that positions change in their vernacular and aligns with their worldview.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines complexity as "the quality or state of not being simple; a part of something that is complicated or hard to understand." However, always remember problems can be solved and issues can be resolved as long as you stay committed to the facilitation of success. Inspire the loyalty of those around you. Celebrate the early wins. Systematically, keep key stakeholders apprised of successes and challenges on a regular basis.
Most importantly, focus on helping others succeed. Let your employees know – and demonstrate – that they are a part of a team that matters. To achieve real, meaningful social impact, leaders and their teams must be sure their actions are also real and meaningful.