“I wish someone had told me to freeze my eggs when I was younger”. Fertility doctors hear this lament several times a day from their patients.. Many women have never been told that the quality of their eggs starts to decline around age 34 and then rapidly declines at age 40. However, many women today are simply not ready to have children by their mid-30’s. Women often want more time to build their career or reach other goals in life or may even have a medical reason to delay childbearing. Egg freezing is a technology available to women that allows them to have children when they are ready.
Egg cryopreservation is the process of removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries and then
freezing them for later use. Vitrification is the quick freezing process that is done on the eggs that allows this procedure to work effectively.. When women are ready to use their frozen eggs one day in the future,, the eggs are thawed and inseminated through IVF (in-vitro fertilization). The embryos that are created through this process can be genetically tested through PGT (preimplantation genetic testing) to look for chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorders. When a patient has a partner, embryo cryopreservation is also an option for fertility preservation.
Benefits of Freezing Eggs for Fertility Preservation
Egg vitrification began in the late 1990s and was initially used for women with cancer who wanted to freeze their eggs prior to starting chemotherapy. Since then the applications of egg cryopreservation have been extended to women who wish to delay childbearing for other medical or social reasons.
When egg freezing is followed by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer, there are two main benefits for women: 1) they have a higher chance of conceiving than if they were to try on their own (due to their advanced age or medical condition) and 2) they have a lower risk of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorders by testing the embryos through PGT.
Egg freezing has advantages over embryo freezing for patients who do not have a partner or have moral concerns about the status of a cryopreserved embryo they may not use.
Risks of Freezing Eggs for Fertility Preservation
Nothing is Guaranteed
While egg freezing has high success rates, it is not suitable for all women. Women with low ovarian reserve are not good candidates for egg cryopreservation because they may need to do multiple cycles which can be expensive, physically challenging, and time consuming. Women of advanced age (>37 years old) are also not good candidates due to a higher likelihood of poorer egg quality. Furthermore, when a woman is ready to use her eggs one day, some of the eggs will not survive thawing, some will not fertilize, and about half of the embryos will not make it to the blastocyst stage by day 5 in culture. Even out of the blastocysts, somewhere between 50 and 90% will test genetically abnormal by PGT (genetic testing) depending on the woman’s age when she froze them.
You Must Use Fertility Medicines
Typically, a woman only has one egg mature every month during a natural menstrual cycle. To undergo egg cryopreservation effectively, multiple eggs must mature. This requires the use of fertility medications to stimulate multiple follicles to grow. During stimulation these medications may cause cramps, bloating, fatigue and headaches. However, most patients tolerate these medications well with minimal side effects.
When the follicles are “mature”, an egg retrieval procedure is performed under anaesthesia. This is typically only a 10-15 minute procedure, but you will need to take that day off from work and are likely to feel crampy after the procedure for a few hours.
When You Wish To Have A Baby, You Must Use In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
When a woman is ready to use her frozen eggs later in life, the eggs are thawed and inseminated through the process of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Sperm must be provided by the patient’s partner or sperm donor for this to occur. Once the embryos have been cultured to the blastocyst stage, one embryo is transferred back into the woman’s uterus for pregnancy. Any additional embryos are then cryopreserved for future use.
You May Be Required To Pay Out Of Pocket
While some businesses are starting to cover egg cryopreservation as a benefit to their employees, most still unfortunately do not. That means that the cost of egg cryopreservation is usually out of pocket for patients.
Getting the Treatment for Audubon Fertility
Egg cryopreservation is a safe and effective method for women to preserve their fertility when they want to delay childbearing for medical or social reasons.. Audubon Fertility has helped thousands of women freeze their eggs for fertility preservation purposes. If you are interested in learning more about this process and if it’s right for you, contact Audubon Fertility to schedule a consultation.