Lots of factors—from careers, to education, to health, to finding the right person—contribute to determining when a person might be ready to start a family. These days, women are waiting longer than they used to. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, if you are considering having children in the future, egg freezing may be the best way to preserve your fertility options.
According to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics, there were over nine times as many first births to women age 35 (and up) than there were 40 years ago… which is wonderful! But since most people’s fertility naturally declines as we age, fertility preservation can be a proactive solution—a way to stop the so-called biological clock.
At AFCC, our world class reproductive endocrinologists, along with our laboratory, have provided the very best clinical expertise throughout our patients’ fertility journeys. We are passionate about helping our patients overcome their infertility hurdles, and we are equally passionate about giving women the chance to get ahead of any infertility issues. Our egg preservation program provides an affordable option that can allow women to attempt to preserve fertility into the future.
How Egg Freezing Works
1. Set up a consult to understand your options.
Preferably women’s eggs should be frozen during their peak fertility years—20s and early 30s— as advanced maternal age is a major factor in causing infertility. The egg freezing process begins with a clinical consultation, followed by pre-screening lab work (hormonal lab testing, preconception screening, ovarian and uterine evaluation, etc.). You will then receive an outline of the stimulation process.
2. Start the process.
Around a month after the initial consultation, or when your targeted cycle starts, egg production will be stimulated with fertility medications. Frequent lab work and ultrasounds are done to monitor egg growth over the next 10-12 days. Then, a final injection will be given to mature the eggs and prepare them for retrieval. Thirty-four to thirty-six hours after the injection, the eggs will be retrieved under anesthesia. After the eggs are retrieved, the IVF laboratory will freeze and store them for your future use. When you are ready to start your family, frozen eggs are thawed and combined with sperm to create embryos.
While fertility preservation can be a substantial investment to some, we want to make sure it’s one that is attainable for all. One of the benefits of AFCC partnering with Prelude Fertility is we are now able to extend additional savings on both egg freezing cycles as well as medications. Contact us to review your options.
Cryopreservation of Oocytes: Key Questions
Is Egg Freezing safe?
Human egg (oocyte) freezing, or cryopreservation, has been done since the 1980s. However, its use has become much more widespread since about 2012.
In October 2012, the Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) published a report stating that frozen eggs in young women has been associated with comparable pregnancy and live birth rates with IVF cycles using fresh eggs. They therefore considered egg freezing as a good option and not experimental anymore.
Following this report, several women have frozen their eggs in order to preserve their fertility for the future.
What is “Vitrification” for cryopreservation?
Vitrification (ultra-rapid freezing) of eggs has been associated with significantly higher survival and success rates compared to the slow freezing technique. We have been using vitrification technique to cryopreserve oocytes for years and have obtained excellent results.
Cryopreservation is a technique which uses extremely low temperature to preserve live tissue in storage for long periods of time. Cells are brought to a temperature at which all cellular metabolic reactions cease. Upon thawing, cells are rehydrated and brought back to body temperature.
At our clinic we have extensive experience with both freezing and thawing eggs as well as fertilizing the thawed eggs and transferring the embryos. We have years of experience through our frozen donor egg program with high pregnancy and live birth rates resulting after transfer of embryos from the frozen eggs.
Many fertility clinics can freeze eggs, but far fewer have experience with freezing, then thawing and fertilizing eggs and transferring the embryos.
Chemotherapy & Infertility
Reproductive age women who are diagnosed with cancer may need to undergo treatment with gonadotoxic chemotherapy or radiatherapy. Unfortunately, several drugs that are routinely used to target cancer cells are also toxic to eggs, as is radiation to the pelvic area.
Therefore, pelvic radiotherapy or chemotherapy will severely decrease the woman’s ovarian reserve (egg supply for the future) and can sometimes lead to premature menopause.
Patients who are diagnosed with cancer and interested in preserving their fertility should discuss egg freezing option with a fertility specialist as soon as possible. Timing is critical because freezing eggs should ideally be performed before starting cancer treatment to avoid its toxic effects. Women could potentially use the frozen eggs to conceive after being cured of cancer.
Human eggs and their surrounding cumulus cells
Eggs and their attached cumulus cells – as seen at the egg retrieval procedure
At the top, a pipette is picking up an egg
The egg is in the middle of the dark area
This picture is from a stereo-microscope
Close up egg picture
Close-up view of a human egg in cumulus cells
This picture is from an inverted microscope
More egg pictures