Egg Freezing Gives Women an Extraordinary Chance for Fertility Preservation
It’s all about the egg these days in some circles. Freezing eggs to be exact. Freezing human eggs to be more specific.
It’s all about freezing eggs because it’s new and extraordinary. New as in only available for the last several years (more than 5, less than 10, I’m pretty sure) and only without the label “experimental” attached for the last year and a half or so.
What’s different about this conversation is that it is not about infertility. It really is about fertility. Making a proactive decision about preserving fertility until the time that you are ready to have a baby.
Fertility & Age
We know certain things about fertility. One thing we know is that as women age, their eggs become less viable. Becoming pregnant, staying pregnant and having a healthy baby becomes less of a possibility and that is without any other specific infertility problems. And aging starts awfully young when it comes to fertility. There is a profound drop in fertility at the age of 35, but there are also drops in naturally occurring pregnancy rates before then. Even as young as twenty five.
Hard to think of twenty-five, thirty, or thirty-five as old, isn’t it?
Women these days get this incredible, even extraordinary chance to preserve their fertility. Literally freeze it. It used to be that you could only do that with an embryo. The issue here is that many women who are not ready to have a baby are often not ready because there is not a male in their lives with whom they want to have a baby. Creating an embryo means having the male cell as well as the female cell.
Freezing eggs frees you to have the choice about who the father or the sperm donor is when you are ready to have your baby. Rather than deciding years, even a decade beforehand.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole at all to say that this is extraordinary for women. Liberating.
That’s why there is so much conversation around egg freezing.
Read below for some content from the Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) webpage concerning egg freezing.
Egg Freezing for Fertility Preservation
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.
Oocyte Freezing: Freezing Your Eggs
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 us.
If you are making major decisions about your life regarding career, education and relationships, please add egg freezing to the conversation. This is a chance that you have as a woman to factor in having a family, not now, but in the future.
It is an extraordinary time to be a woman.
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