Egg freezing is a process by which eggs (oocytes) are matured with the use of injectable hormones, removed, frozen and stored for later use. Initial attempts at egg freezing with a technique called slow-cooling were disappointing due to damage from ice crystal formation within the egg; however, with a newer technique called vitrification, egg freezing has become a viable alternative. Vitrification uses extremely rapid cooling rates, which causes the oocytes to be encased in a glass-like "gel" and eliminates ice formation. Recent reports of egg survival and pregnancy rates are encouraging, with the birth of more than 1,000 children worldwide.
Egg Freezing patients undergo the same egg stimulation and recovery process that an IVF or Embryo Freezing patient does, but only to the point of egg retrieval, at which point all mature eggs are cryopreserved. In January 2013, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology stated that egg freezing should no longer be considered experimental.
Success rates are promising. Pregnancy rates with cryopreserved eggs are similar to IVF/ICSI with fresh eggs. In the literature, more than 90% of frozen eggs are reported to survive the warming process and more than 70% of warmed eggs are reported to fertilize. Pregnancy rates are also encouraging, in the range of 32% to 80% per cycle. The current estimated birth rate per warmed egg is in the range of 5-12%. This means that if 10 eggs were available after freezing, the likelihood of a resulting live birth would be 30>65%.
Thus far, there are no reported increased risks of birth defects compared to IVF and the general population.
Egg Freezing for Reproductive Aging
The Ethics Committee of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine states oocyte cryopreservation holds promise for future female fertility preservation, but there is not yet sufficient data to recommend oocyte cryopresrvation for the sole purpose of circumventing reproductive aging in healthy women.
We encourage women who are concerned about their reproductive aging to schedule a Fertility Assessment to evaluate options for preserving fertility.
Fertility Preservation for Women
There are some cancer treatments wherein there is a high likelihood that women will lose most if not all of their eggs (oocytes) and effectively be in menopause after they survive their cancer. In order to conserve fertility in these women it is necessary to preserve eggs or embryos prior to cancer treatment.
Embryo cryopreservation has been the standard fertility preservation for women. For women without a life partner, egg freezing has become a promising alternative.
Conservative gynecologic surgery with minimal resection or normal tissue is also possible depending on the type, grade, and stage of cancer. Other experimental methods of female fertility preservation exist including ovarian tissue cryopreservation, ovarian suppression with gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists or antagonists, and in vitro maturation. Protection of the ovaries from radiation by surgical transposition of the ovaries (oophoropexy) and/or gonadal shielding are standard fertility preservation techniques.
» Visit seattlefertility.com to make an appointment
Please call 206.301.5000 where you will be assisted and directed to our dedicated Fertility Preservation Coordinator.