Egg Freezing Program
The decline in female reproductive potential starts in the early 20s and declines progressively until the mid to late 30s when a steep decline in fertility potential is noted. By the early forties, the decline is so steep that only a minority will conceive and deliver a healthy child. That translates into a higher proportion of women in their mid to late thirties having trouble conceiving. Many women are delaying childbirth secondary to career or economic considerations, thereby decreasing significantly their chances at future conception. That decline in reproductive potential cannot be reversed, however by freezing "younger" eggs, that decline may potentially be averted because the chances of getting pregnant are directly related to the "age" of the egg.
The human egg is extremely fragile and despite many years of research into ways to improve the survival of frozen eggs many issues remain. Unlike the human egg, freezing sperm and embryos are more resilient and freezing methods are proven to work. Because of the above, many single women in their 20s and 30s who do not have a stable partner are resorting to using donor sperm through insemination and/or IVF, and freezing resulting embryos. However, recent advances in cryoprotectants have enabled us to freeze mature eggs with a relatively good survival after thawing. Now, women looking to freeze their eggs can do that and afford to wait for "Mr. Right" rather than being "forced" to use donor sperm, and thus effectively turning back the biological clock. These eggs can then be used years later when a husband or stable partner is identified.
Below is a photo of a human egg
Women who have recently been diagnosed with cancer, which necessitates the use of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, are encouraged to pursue egg freezing at our Center in an attempt to preserve their fertility. Candidates morally opposed to fertilizing more than a certain number of eggs are also eligible. Single women in their 20s and early to mid 30s who would like to have their eggs frozen are ideal candidates for this procedure. We have frozen oocytes for few women aged 35-38. Older women may be candidates but will be evaluated on a case-by-case situation. We strongly discourage women > 40 yo to freeze their eggs because of very limited experience and for their poor egg yield to start with (and therefore poor survival chances after thawing and low chances at pregnancy). Women with endometriomas (endometriosis within the ovaries), and those with recurrent ovarian cysts are also candidates for egg feezing. Women with a strong family history of early menopause or premature ovarian failure may also benefit from this procedure.
Despite the fact that ASRM considers egg freezing experimental, there have been more than 1000 deliveries worldwide. Recent advances in freezing methods, such as vitrification, the method we have been using since 2003, have allowed for a better chance at survival of the frozen eggs, ultimately improving the odds for a pregnancy. We were the first Fertility Center in the Metro DC area to offer oocyte freezing. We are confident that egg freezing will become routine within the coming 5 years.
We have signed up with LIVESTRONG to help women recently diagnosed with cancer undergo egg freezing or embryo freezing through their Sharing Hope Agreement. For more information please visit www.livestrong.org.