If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, you might be considering fertility treatment. In the past decade, egg freezing has grown immensely in popularity. Reviewing the reasons to opt for this technology can help you decide if you’re a potential candidate.
Why Consider Egg Freezing?
Because of family-planning options and other issues, many women want to get pregnant but not at the present. Freezing eggs for use later is one option in these circumstances, the NYU Langone Medical Center reports:
- Career and financial issues. Career progression, military deployment, and financial constraints lead many women to postpone pregnancy. Since the eggs present when a woman is born are all that she will have, once their quantity and quality start to decline in her 30s, fertility can become an issue. Freezing eggs allows a patient to preserve fertility at a younger age and become pregnant later.
- Social considerations. Lack of a current male partner or facing a pending separation or divorce might cause a woman to consider freezing eggs.
- Health issues. Progressive illnesses such as sickle cell disease, endometriosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and renal disease could prompt a woman to want to preserve her fertility. Freezing eggs is one option for patients whose fertility is likely to be compromised by cancer treatments. After 40, the chances of getting pregnant and sustaining a viable pregnancy fall significantly. The possibility of eggs bearing chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s syndrome also increases in that age group. Achieving a pregnancy with eggs frozen at a younger age allows a woman to postpone becoming a parent and avoid a difficulty pregnancy or disorders related to abnormal chromosomes.
How the Process Works
The Medical College of Wisconsin notes that freezing eggs requires a very specialized process because unlike embryos and sperm, eggs contain quite a bit of water. This makes it harder to freeze and thaw them.
The procedure physicians use to retrieve eggs to be frozen is much like the one utilized for IVF egg retrieval. Patients take medications to stimulate production of multiple eggs. Once the eggs are mature, a physician retrieves them using needle aspiration teamed with ultrasound technology.
Before freezing the eggs, a fertility clinic removes water from them and replaces it with a fluid that will not freeze before cryogenic storage. Flash-freezing allows eggs to remain stored for to up to 10 years. When a patient wants to conceive, the clinic thaws the eggs and injects them with sperm. Fertilized eggs become embryos, which are transferred to the woman’s uterus.
Success rates for transferring embryos that have been thawed and those for fresh embryos are very similar when the thawed embryos retain intact. Potential candidates can look forward to a 59 percent pregnancy rate and a 26 percent live birth rate, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.