Egg freezing may be used to preserve future fertility for women. Mature oocytes (eggs) are harvested from a woman’s ovaries, flash-frozen (vitrified), stored, and are later thawed to create embryos using in-vitro fertilization. Recently, we came across a very informative video series in which a 29 year old woman records her egg freezing experience.
It has only been recently that researchers have become more confident in successfully freezing human eggs. More women are considering it for a number of reasons:
- Cancer or other medical treatments: Certain medical treatments — such as radiation or chemotherapy — can harm egg numbers and quality. Egg freezing allows women to potentially have biological children in the future.
- IVF: After an egg retrieval cycle, some of the eggs may be fertilized for a current pregnancy attempt and other eggs may be stored for future pregnancy attempts. Embryos are created on an as-needed basis.
- Fertility Preservation: A woman may choose to freeze her eggs when she is young, unmarried, and just beginning her career. Then when she is ready to begin having children, eggs will be thawed, fertilized, and transferred.
The last reason is becoming more popular. One of the most important factors in successful egg freezing is the age of the woman. Egg quality declines as women age, so the earlier they are frozen, the more likely the eggs will survive the freezing and thawing process.
But is the process, expense, time, and risk involved worth it?
Egg freezing is costly, both financially and emotionally. Each egg retrieval cycle takes several months and some women may have to complete more than one retrieval in order to secure enough eggs for future use. The procedure to harvest eggs from the ovaries costs about $10,000, which does not include the cost of the medication and hormone injections the woman has to take for several weeks to stimulate her ovaries. After the embryos are frozen, there is an annual storage bill, averaging $600.00 a year. And when the eggs are thawed, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus through an IVF cycle, the cost ranges from $5,000 - $12,000.
Of course, there is no guarantee a woman will be able to have genetic children in the future if they freeze eggs now.
Are there other options?
Yes! There is another successful option for achieving a pregnancy in the future without incurring the expense of egg freezing. It is called embryo adoption. Embryos that have already been created IVF cycles are made available to for adoption. The adopting family uses the embryos to achieve a pregnancy and give birth. There is no expense for egg retrieval. No painful procedures. It’s affordable. It’s proven successful.
Anyone considering freezing their eggs should be aware of this option for future pregnancies. To learn more about embryo adoption, visit www.EmbryoAdoption.org.