Wan Tseng decided to freeze her eggs after she met with several women who told her about the ease of mind the decision had given them. Like many other women, she had spent several years in university and focused on her career before she started thinking of having a family. Freezing her eggs was a way for Tseng not to be hindered by external or biological factors. Now, she is the Chairperson of the Taiwan Egg Freezing Association and works to empower more women to take charge of their fertility.
“Freezing your eggs is a way to empower yourself and to ensure that once you’re ready for a family, you have the best possible chance for success,” says Tseng. She lists several reasons modern women in Taiwan decide to freeze their eggs, including career planning, an uncertain relationship status, and medical conditions that might lower fertility rates, such as endometriosis.
Over the past few years, significant advancements have been made in the egg-freezing process. Evidence from randomized controlled trials has shown that frozen eggs can be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) just as effectively as fresh ones. As a result, egg freezing is now no longer regarded as experimental, and social egg freezing – for reasons that are not medical – has become an increasingly popular and widely known alternative.
“Just a decade ago, many people didn’t believe we could freeze eggs without affecting their quality,” says Dr. Jason Ho, who has over 20 years of experience with fertility treatments and now works at Taipei Fertility Center (TFC). “But thanks to the development of hyper-speed vitrification and highly condensed preservation treatments, we can now freeze eggs in the blink of an eye, perfectly preserving them.”
Geriatric pregnancies are associated with many risks, including infertility, abnormal chromosome numbers, and miscarriage. Tseng emphasizes that “freezing the quality of your eggs” reduces these risks and increases the chance of a future successful pregnancy. The ideal candidate for egg freezing is around 30 years old, although Dr. Ho says that “the best time to freeze your eggs is the moment you make the decision to do so.”
At between NT$80,000 and NT$120,000 for extraction and around NT$5,000-10,000 in annual storage fees, the cost of social egg freezing can be lower than repeated fertility treatments that are often necessary for geriatric pregnancies, notes Tseng.
Before the egg retrieval procedure, women are given medications to stimulate ovulation. The entire course of treatment takes about two weeks, but the actual egg retrieval procedure varies according to individual conditions. Women can go home the day of the operation, and the retrieved eggs are frozen in a special liquid until needed.
Taiwan has become an attractive destination for international women and couples looking to freeze eggs thanks to its cutting-edge technology, long history of fertility treatments, talented medical professionals, strict and transparent fertility laws, and competitive prices, notes Dr. Ho. Taiwan started its first IVF program in 1985 – just seven years after the first IVF baby was born in the UK – and was one of the first countries in the world to succeed with IVF treatments.
“Since then, we’ve been one of the frontiers of IVF and other fertility treatments,” says Dr. Ho. He adds that for domestic couples looking to undergo IVF treatments, there are government programs supporting them with subsidies. “Now, some local governments – including Hsinchu and Taoyuan – have also started subsidizing egg freezing to help future parents.”
Tseng says she’s met with women who have waited too long to make fertility decisions and ultimately lost their chance to have children. She strongly encourages women to take control of their right to choose later in life.
“Even if you don’t want children now, social egg freezing enables you to change your mind without feeling the pressure of time,” says Tseng. “It can help you relax and make the decision on your own terms, once you’re ready.”
(This article is jointly provided by member companies of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan. The medical content contained in this article is the independent opinion and suggestion of professional medical personnel and does not represent the position of the Chamber and its members. If you have more questions, please contact professional medical personnel.)