What is Egg Freezing?
Egg Freezing, also known as Oocyte Cryopreservation, has been emerging over the years as an option for women who have had to delay childbearing due to circumstances beyond their control or for women who choose to delay childbearing because the time is not right..
This, coupled with the declaration from ASRM that egg freezing is no longer considered experimental, has opened up a new avenue for women seeking to extend their reproductive lives to fit their individual circumstances. “Most women will never have the cause to use frozen oocytes,” says John S. Rinehart, MD, PhD, JD of Reproductive Medicine Institute. “What this technology provides is the ‘just in case’ scenario. Think of it as an insurance policy.”
What is involved?
The process of egg freezing generally involves 3 steps (1) pre testing and assessment of ovarian reserve (2) ovarian stimulation and (3) oocyte retrieval followed by cryopreservation.
Pre testing and Assessment of Ovarian Reserve
Prior to the start of treatment, your Team RMI physician will test your ovarian reserve. Ovarian reserve tests include a set blood work and ultrasound which will not only help your provider design your unique ovarian stimulation protocol, but will also give some insight into your response to fertility medications and the number of cycles required to cryopreserve an adequate number of eggs.
During ovarian stimulation, injections of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and a combination of FSH and Leutinizing hormone (hMG) to stimulate follicle development will be administered. During this time, blood work and ultrasounds are used to monitor follicle development. Once an adequate number of follicles have been recruited, a final trigger injection, which help to mature and release the eggs within the follicles, is administered and an ultrasound guided oocyte retrieval is performed 36 hours later.
Oocyte Retrieval and Cryopreservation
The ultrasound guided oocyte retrieval is considered a minimally invasive procedure and requires light sedation. On the day of the retrieval, the mature eggs are then vitrified.
What are the Risks?
Historically, fertilization and pregnancy rates resulting from frozen eggs have been low, but, advances in the cryopreservation of embryos, oocytes and ovarian tissue, primarily due to the use of the vitrification process, have shown dramatic improvement. Increased data taken from established pregnancies and deliveries from cryopreserved eggs have been reassuring, showing little difference thus far in chromosomal or genetic abnormalities, than found in the control group.