The CCRM network has completed egg freezing cycles on more than 500 women. Although many of the eggs are frozen for long-term storage and fertility preservation, more than 300 egg thawing cycles have been completed with an oocyte (egg) survival rate of greater than 90%.
Egg Freezing has become a popular and viable option for women who wish to have a chance to preserve their fertility. New vitrification techniques have improved the outcomes for egg freezing cycles. In the past, egg freezing was difficult because the egg has a high water content and contains cytoplasmic structures. Ice crystal formation could damage these structures during the freezing and thawing process. The newer technique of vitrification has dramatically increased the success of this procedure. Our IVF laboratory employs the latest and most successful techniques to ensure the highest success for egg freezing.
A woman may elect to have egg freezing treatment for the following reasons:
She is a single woman who is not currently in a relationship but would like the option of biological motherhood in the future. She may try to conceive using her thawed frozen eggs in the future at a time when her own fertility may have reduced and the quality of her fresh eggs may have diminished.
She has a medical condition which may either shorten her ‘fertility life’ or which will prevent her trying to conceive until treatment for that condition is complete, such as:
• Severe endometriosis
• Recurrent ovarian cysts
• Any condition which may result in premature ovarian failure or the removal of her ovaries
• A history of early menopause in her family
Why Should I Freeze My Eggs?
There is a natural decline in fertility many years prior to the onset of menopause despite a woman having regular ovulatory cycles. It is reported that there is a slight decline in fertility at the age of 27 and a substantial decrease after the age of 35.
The fertility preservation process begins with a consultation with a CCRM physician, which includes an in-depth discussion of the patient’s needs and the processes involved. Blood tests and a pelvic ultrasound are performed during this appointment to assess the number of eggs in the ovaries (ovarian reserve).
Treatment and Egg/Embryo Freezing
Each patient has an individualized medication protocol. The purpose of the medications taken during treatment is to safely stimulate the ovaries to produce more mature eggs than are produced in a natural cycle. Ovarian stimulation takes approximately two weeks. At a time determined by the physician, the patient undergoes the egg retrieval procedure. The retrieved eggs are then frozen using a vitrification (freezing) process. If the patient wishes to freeze embryos, the eggs are fertilized after retrieval.
Egg freezing is typically performed in a similar fashion to an IVF cycle. FSH medications are taken for approximately 10 days while the follicles are developing. Patients are seen for an ultrasound every few days to monitor the growth. When the follicles are ready an HCG trigger shot is given in the evening to mature the egg and get it ready for fertilization. Egg retrieval is performed 2 days later in the morning. The egg retrieval procedure lasts approximately 15 minutes and is done without incisions. An IV anesthetic is used so the patient is asleep. A small diameter needle is used with the ultrasound to retrieve the eggs. The number of eggs depends on the patient’s age and other characteristics. Recovery is 1-2 days of resting however some patients who make a high number of eggs will need to avoid heavy activity for 1 week to recover.