Oocyte cryopreservation or egg freezing is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) for women who want or need to delay motherhood.
Egg freezing can be the answer for a number of specific family planning and fertility preservation issues. For example, egg freezing may be a viable option for women who face surgery, radiation or chemotherapy that could leave their ovaries at risk, for single women who want to extend or postpone their reproductive options, or for couples who are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) but who have moral or religious objections to freezing embryos that may never be used.
Fertility Preservation via Egg Freezing
Elective egg freezing is now more commonplace. Some women have chosen to freeze and store their eggs because they want to postpone pregnancy and are concerned about fertility preservation. These eggs can be thawed and combined with sperm at a later date for embryo transfer.
Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients
We have patients who are about to start chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Prior to their chemotherapy regimen, we can stimulate their ovaries and retrieve eggs for freezing. This process can move quickly, sometimes taking only a few short weeks, allowing the patient time to store eggs and providing them with reproductive options in the future.
Freezing and then thawing human eggs is a complicated process. The egg is relatively large and made mostly of water. Managing the process so that ice crystals do not form and damage the egg is a major challenge. The procedure used to freeze eggs at RMACT is called vitrification. Vitrification involves cooling eggs to a very cold temperature for a brief period of time (minutes) with sugar based cryoprotectants that protect the inner workings of the egg while at the same time allowing them to be frozen.
The oocyte cryopreservation cycle (egg freezing) follows the same protocol as in vitro fertilization (IVF), including the use of self-administered hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries followed by an egg retrieval. The eggs are placed in a protective medium, frozen immediately and stored until the patient is ready to use them. The eggs are then thawed and each is injected with a single sperm to achieve fertilization. The resulting embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus for implantation.
Egg Freezing in New York & Connecticut
Egg freezing is available at only a few major centers for reproductive technology, and the number of live births worldwide from frozen eggs is fairly small. For more information on freezing your eggs and the cost of egg freezing, contact RMACT.
Please check out these recent blogs on egg freezing: