Advances in egg (oocyte) and embryo cryopreservation have radically changed our approach to this topic. It is our belief that egg freezing is now a viable option for fertility preservation.
Until recently, high costs ($10,000–$15,000 per treatment), and very low pregnancy rates (<5% live birth rates) made egg freezing experimental and clinically unacceptable for most patients. With the use of “vitrification”, egg survival, fertilization and pregnancy rates have vastly improved. Currently, the ASRM considers egg freezing to be experimental, but the European Society for Human Reproduction (ESHRE) and many other reputable medical societies do not. Based upon published papers and conference abstracts, especially over the last few years, we believe that egg freezing is no longer just a “backup” experimental procedure, but rather it represents another constituent option among the advanced reproductive technologies for women wishing to preserve their fertility.
It is well established that a woman’s fertility peaks in her 20s and begins to decline at age 30 with a rapid decline after age 35. Egg quality is directly related to age. Understanding that many women will delay childbirth until they are in their mid to late 30s (or even later) for social, career or economic reasons, it would be logical for these women to consider egg freezing and storing in their 20s or early 30s when their egg quality is at its peak biologic potential. This would allow them a later reproductive option should they experience age-related infertility.
Egg cryopreservation involves the same steps in a stimulated IVF treatment. The patient takes gonadotropin injections for about 7 to 10 days to induce the development of multiple follicles. The eggs are then collected and immediately cryopreserved using “vitrification.”
Theoretically, the eggs can be stored indefinitely for later fertilization and embryo transfer. We recommend egg cryopreservation only at IVF centers with a proven track record of success with embryo or egg cryopreservation using vitrification, which is a relatively new extension of the advanced reproductive technologies.