What is Egg Freezing?
Elective egg freezing or oocyte cryopreservation is a procedure that allows doctors to collect and freeze eggs from women who are not ready to become pregnant. Fertility doctor Jane Miller and the staff at North Hudson IVF are thrilled to be able to provide this essential service. Unlike men who manufacture and mature new sperm every 72 days women’s eggs have a shelf-life-like eggs in the supermarket. Women do not make new eggs. They only have the ones they were born with and those eggs age with their “owners”. As eggs age their quality and genetic potential deteriorate. That is the main reason why women have a harder time conceiving as they get older. Egg freezing allows women to “stop the biologic clock” so that they can have young eggs when they are ready to become pregnant.
Who is Egg Freezing For?
Egg freezing can be for social or medical reasons but the lines between these two indications are really not distinct. Elective egg freezing should be offered to any woman of reproductive age who has been diagnosed with cancer or any medical condition that requires radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery that may involve the reproductive organs. Young women with surgically confirmed endometriosis, especially those with ovarian endometriomas (chocolate cysts), should also be offered this technique as endometriosis can severely diminish a woman’s ovarian reserve and thus her chances for future pregnancy.
Young women who are following extended education and career paths and who don’t plan on pregnancy until after their mid 30s are candidates for egg freezing as well. Although this is sometimes referred to as “social egg freezing” the intention of this treatment is to collect and cryopreserve a woman’ s eggs before time and age cause her to have a true infertility problem.
How is Egg Freezing done?
In order to have her eggs frozen a woman takes medication to stimulate the development of multiple follicles in both ovaries. Fertility doctor Jane Miller then retrieves the eggs from these follicles in a 15 – 20 minute procedure. The process of vitrification is then used to freeze the eggs for future use. From start to finish egg freezing takes no more than 2 weeks.
Is Egg Freezing Effective?
In the past egg freezing was considered experimental. Pregnancies from eggs that had been frozen and subsequently thawed and fertilized were few and therefore anecdotal. In 2012, however, the American Society For Reproductive Medicine removed the “Experimental” label as perfection of the vitrification technique has allowed equivalent IVF pregnancy rates with fresh and frozen/thawed eggs. Egg freezing is ready for prime time!
Nevertheless, as with fresh eggs, the age at which a woman electively has her eggs frozen impacts her chances at pregnancy and subsequent live birth. Although mid 20s – mid 30s are the best years to freeze one’s eggs, oocyte cryopreservation can be done in later years as well.
In the not-so-distant past men could bank sperm (have multiple ejaculates frozen) but woman had no similar option to “stop their biologic clocks”. Today egg freezing is an approved, safe, and doable procedure with numerous indications. At North Hudson IVF Dr. Jane Miller and our outstanding laboratory and embryology team are equipped to handle your egg freezing questions, concerns and needs.