Maria Menounos: ‘My Choice’ to Freeze My Eggs

Sep 26, 2011 11:58am
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ABC News

Maria Menounos is a red carpet regular, known for her A-list interviews.

But the “Extra” co-host became the center of attention herself after she went public with her decision to have her eggs frozen as a way to assure her fertility in the future.

“To me, parenting is the most difficult job in the entire world, and when I do it, I want to be committed, and I want to be 100 percent ready to take it on and be the best mom I can be,”  Menounos, 33,  said today on “Good Morning America.”  “Right now, I don’t find myself in that position.”

Menounos announced her fertility decision last Thursday in an appearance on  CW Network’s  “Lifechangers With Dr. Drew” series, to which she  also contributes.

“I’m 33, and I decided that I know I have a couple of years of work I want to get to, and then do it,” Menounos told the show’s host, Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Although Menounos is one of a growing number of women who have decided to postpone pregnancy by harvesting their eggs, her decision drew headlines on two fronts:   her decison  to put work before family, and to go so public with it.

“For me, this is important … because now we can show women there is an option if you need it and if you want it and if you think it’s right for you,” Menounos told “GMA.”

Menounos said  she was motivated to both undergo the harvesting procedure and document it publicly because she, like many women, was not aware of how quickly a woman’s chances for pregnancy decline once they hit 40.

“We’re so wrapped up in our work and time goes by so quickly.  I’m having fun, I’m living my dream,” she said.  “I had a couple of different colleagues approach me in the last two or three years and say ‘Don’t do what we did and wait until you are 40 and forget to have kids.’  I realized I could be a candidate.”

Explaining the video diary-style documentary series that will air on the “Lifechangers” show in the upcoming weeks, she said, “We’ll show you every step of the way. I’ve been shooting footage of my injections and exactly how I’m feeling because, for me, it’s important to show that.”

Around 1,000 to 2,000 babies around the world have been born using frozen eggs, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which sets industry guidelines.

Menounos’  doctor, Los Angeles fertility specialist Dr. Melanie Landay, shared with”GMA” the statistics.

“People do get pregnant when they’re 40, but the chances of pregnancy per month at age 40 are about 5 percent compared to someone who’s 30 when they’re about 20 to 25 percent per month,” Landay said.  “So there is a chance, but it’s dramatically decreased.”

At 33, Menounos is still young enough to benefit from egg harvesting, said Landay, which requires taking a series of hormone  injections.

“The best candidate is someone who’s under the age of 35,”   Landay said.  “The one thing we can’t do with medicine is we can’t avert the aging process.”

Menounos also took the extra step, Landay told “GMA,” of having both her eggs and embryos fertilized  to increase her likelihood of becoming pregnant.

We have a lot more experience with freezing embryos, while freezing eggs is still somewhat of an experimental procedure,” Landay explained.

“Just because you freeze your eggs doesn’t mean there’s a 100 percent chance you’re going to have a baby, but it absolutely doesn’t affect your chance of getting pregnant naturally,” she said, which Menounos has not ruled out.

Having a child naturally is still something the TV host, who has been in a steady relationship with director Keven Undergaro for 13 years, plans to try first, she said.

“It’s a bit of an insurance policy,” Menounos said of her decision to harvest her eggs.  “It doesn’t mean that in two years or three years I’m not going to try naturally, but at least I have this in case there’s a problem.”

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