A quickly evolving process to flash-freeze female eggs—thus preserving fertility—is changing the way women think about having families.
Jennifer Hayes had always wanted a child. And like many other American women, Hayes figured she would have at least one by the time she reached her early 30s. But when she hit her 34th birthday in 2009, she was unmarried, childless, and spending long hours battling to keep her Telluride restaurant business afloat amid the recession. “I had a baby shower to go to every other weekend, and I felt like the only person in my world who wasn’t married,” Hayes says. “I was really, really tired of worrying about my biological clock.”
Not too long thereafter, Hayes learned that there might be a way to silence the ticking. A friend who, at the age of 40, was undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) at a Denver clinic told Hayes about a new procedure designed to preserve women’s fertility. She urged Hayes to look into it. Do anything you can, she said, to avoid the stressful and costly multiple IVF rounds she and her husband were experiencing.
The following year, Hayes traveled from Telluride to the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) in Lone Tree. It was there that Hayes decided to move forward with something called oocyte cryopreservation. Within six weeks, the now 37-year-old had 19 eggs cradled in a cryogenic tank, indefinitely suspended in time.