Egg freezing is a breakthrough technology that allows women to freeze and store their eggs until a pregnancy is desired, at which time the eggs are thawed, fertilized and transferred to the uterus as embryos.
Over the last several decades, much effort has been put into developing a technique for egg freezing. Freezing of sperm has been available for decades enabling men to store sperm who otherwise may become infertile due to radiation, chemotherapy, or castration.
Not until recently, has a successful technique for freezing eggs been developed. This new technique will help women facing infertility due to chemotherapy, women whose egg supply may run out as they age, in addition to couples who have an ethical dilemma with embryo freezing, save eggs for future fertility.
Since 1984 infertility centers have been freezing embryos. Thousands of babies have been born using this technology with a large body of reassuring health data. Freezing embryos is the preferred technique for women who desire to postpone or “save” childbearing (due to cancer, surgery or advancing age) but what happens if you do not have a male partner?
In the past women were faced with the decision to create embryos with donor sperm or take the chance that fertility would still be good after cancer therapy or after the age of 38. Now there is a new option freezing unfertilized eggs. Besides preserving fertility for women who are to undergo cancer therapy, or perserving fertility for women over 38, freezing eggs is also beneficial for couples who have ethical and moral issues with destroying embryos created thru the IVF process. For these couples egg freezing will limit the number of embryos created and therefore the possible number of embryos that would need to be destroyed or donated.
Who may benefit from Egg Freezing?
1. Individuals faced with the prospect of losing ovarian function either surgically, through chemotherapy or radiation exposure may benefit from the cryopreservation of eggs. There may be medical contraindications for some individuals to participate in the cryopreservation program. Medical consultation with your oncologist or surgeon may be required.
2. Couples undergoing in vitro fertilization who are morally or ethically opposed to the cryopreservation of embryos.
3. Individuals who anticipate delaying childbearing into their late thirties. Certainly we know that many individuals after age 37 will have severely diminished fertility due to remaining egg number and quality.
Who is a Good Candidate for Egg Freezing?
Before undergoing egg freezing to preserve fertility it is important to determine if you are a good candidate. For a women under 35 years about 12 mature eggs will be required to obtain a 50% chance of a live birth. For women over 36 years of age, 16 eggs will be needed to have a good chance of success.
Because egg quality will vary from individual to individual, it is not possible to assert for any particular individual their chances for a successful pregnancy from a given number of eggs. More accurate assessment of ovarian reserve can be obtained through hormonal testing. The tests that we currently recommend are the anti-mullerian hormone, follicle stimulating hormone and estradiol hormone levels.
Egg quality is primarily a function of age, but does relate to ovarian reserve. Egg quality in general declines with age. Because of concerns over egg quality, we do not offer egg freezing to patients older than 40.
To date, approximately 2000 babies have been born worldwide from frozen eggs. Among these births, the rate of birth defects and chromosomal defects has been no higher than e in the general population. Additionally, genetic screening of embryos is available.
How do I get started with Freezing my Eggs?
It takes approximately six to eight weeks to complete an egg freezing cycle. Essentially women who desire to freeze their eggs have to undergo IVF: A few weeks of birth control pills to rest the ovaries; followed by about 2 weeks of hormone shots to stimulate the ovaries to develop multiple eggs. When the the eggs have developed to the correct size an egg retrieval to obtain the eggs to be frozen will occur.
Immediately following retrieval, the eggs are frozen. In the future. when an embryo transfer is desired, the eggs are thawed, injected with a single sperm to achieve fertilization, and transferred to the uterus. Women who desire to freeze their eggs should set up an new patient appointment. Your medical history will be reviewed and egg quality will be checked to see if you will be a good candidate. We do not freeze eggs on women > 40 years of age.
For expert treatment in Egg Freezing, call Rocky Mountain Fertility Center today at (303) 999-3877. Dr. Smith will provide a no-cost 15 minute phone consultation to discuss your options!