Egg Freezing has become quite popular over the past few years. Women find it appealing to be able to preserve their fertility for medical, lifestyle or career reasons. A variety of companies including Apple and Facebook even assist their employees with the financial costs of Egg Freezing. According to WebMD, there have now been more than 2,000 live births from frozen eggs, about 1,000 within the past 5 years.
The Egg Freezing process is done for a variety of reasons:
• Cancer or other radiation treated diseases
• Delay motherhood to pursue educational, career or personal life goals (fertility preservation)
In order to retrieve eggs for freezing, a woman undergoes the same hormone-injection process as in-vitro fertilization. The only difference is that, following egg retrieval, the eggs are frozen.
It takes approximately 4-6 weeks to complete the egg freezing cycle and the steps are the same as the initial stages of the IVF process including:
•2-4 weeks of birth control pills to temporarily turn off natural hormones
•10-14 days of hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries and mature multiple eggs.
Once the eggs have adequately matured, they are removed with a needle placed through the vagina under ultrasound guidance. This procedure is done under intravenous sedation and is not painful. The eggs are then frozen within few hours.
The Virginia Center for Reproductive Medicine recommends and practices a newer freezing technique called Vitrification. This process is ultra-rapid cooling (not true freezing) and reduces potential egg freezing risks. Frozen embryos remain viable for an infinite amount of time after the initial freeze.
When a woman is ready to try to conceive, the eggs are thawed, fertilized using OCSI with partner’s sperm, and transferred to the uterus 5 days later as embryos. This process is called Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). The eggs will be the exact age and quality of the time period she froze them, regardless how many years have gone by. The pregnancy success rates related to a Frozen Embryo Transfer depend on the women’s age at the time she froze her eggs.
The Virginia Center for Reproductive Medicine invite you to learn more about the Egg Freezing process by visiting: https://www.vcrmed.com/other-services/egg-freezing-program/