While I was sitting in a waiting room the other day, came across an article in a magazine on freezing oocyte. There are many companies offering freezing egg services for women for the purpose of future fertility. These companies have a very solid way of marketing, means they go after women who are aging and have yet to find their better half, but know that they have to become pregnant someday. They encourage these women’s to keep on waiting and freeze their oocyte for future pregnancy.
The advantage of helping female employees who don’t want to have kids in their early 20s, but also don’t want to take the risk of delaying childbirth in their 30s due to their increased focus on their careers. One of the latest happening about egg freezing is that some of the largest companies like Google, Facebook and Apple along with their different perks have started offering their female employees the chance of freezing their oocyte, so that they have the freedom of pursuing family planning according to their wishes in future.
Annually, millions of women make the choice to freeze their oocyte. This move creates more options for women who want to delay starting a family. If one is considering having her oocyte frozen, she should become educated on the process.
About frozen oocyte
The oocytes are frozen in this process for a number of reasons. It gives the woman the option of using a small amount of embryos at one time during an IVF procedure. This can improve the outcome of a subsequent IVF procedure. The use of frozen oocyte can also increase the woman’s chances of safely carrying the children to term.
Common reasons for cryopreservation procedure
Some women may find that chances of career advancement could be affected by having a child at a particular point in life. Others are certain that having a child later on in life is better option. Women may want to wait to achieve a certain level of financial stability before growing a family. Many desire to wait until they find a suitable partner. Women who may be undergoing some sort of medical treatment, such as chemotherapy, may find it necessary to undergo an egg freeze procedure. Cryopreservation can also be used in cases where the initial IVF treatment using fresh oocyte was unsuccessful.
The procedure is usually performed in less than an hour. When one decides to undergo an egg freeze treatment, the woman may have a procedure referred to as cryopreservation. Initial testing is performed on the woman during an office visit. Preliminary blood tests, other assessments and an ultrasound are involved. The ovaries will be stimulated through fertility injections. The woman may begin experiencing symptoms like hot flashes and sore breasts after receiving the fertility injections. Several weeks later, the woman will return for another office visit where the oocyte will be removed. At this time, egg retrieval process begins. The woman is administered a mild sedative during the process. A guide is inserted and used to locate the oocyte. Once the oocyte is located, the fluid surrounding the oocyte is drained. The egg cells are then retrieved.
History of frozen egg success
Until this option became available to women, many women had to rush the process to increase chances of conception during the IVF treatment. Multiple embryos could be fertilized during the IVF procedure. In some cases, a number of unused embryos that had to be discarded, if not donated to others facing challenges with infertility. The cryopreservation process caused difficulty to the oocyte in the past, as the oocyte would be compromised to the point where they became unsuitable for later use. In recent years, however, the egg survival rate has improved through technology.
How oocytes are frozen
The oocyte can be frozen in a process called vitrification. This process requires that the oocyte are immediately frozen once removed from the body. The oocyte undergoes a stabilization process with cryoprotectants before they are placed in liquid nitrogen vapor. The oocyte can also be frozen in a different process that involves slow freezing. Slow freezing, commonly referred to as slow programmable freezing, is the process that is used to gradually freeze the egg in increments before placing them into liquid nitrogen. This method of freezing oocyte uses no cry protectants. The freezing process altogether can take several months.
Benefits of cryopreservation
A woman can delay pregnancy until ready. The woman does not have to risk multiple births unnecessarily. New ethics and guidelines are in place by the Ethics Committee of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine to improve potential outcome of these procedures. Recent research shows no elevated risks of children being born with birth defects or other abnormalities as a result of egg freezing.
Let me briefly explain the above mentioned fees related to freezing oocyte/sperm/embryos. The first charge is for freezing oocyte/sperm/embryos and it is a onetime fee of $500. The second charge is for storing oocyte/sperm/embryos and that charge is $500 per year.
You should find a clinic that uses the latest cryopreservation approach, which dramatically increase cryosurvival (percentage of oocyte/embryos that are alive after thawing) of embryos. Traditionally, IVF clinics used the slow freezing method that has been used since the 1980’s. Our clinics use rapid freezing technique recently developed in Japan called Vitrification. With Vitrification, the temperature is lowered at 23,000 degrees C per minute. That is 70,000 times faster than in traditional approach. Such rapid cooling coupled with cryoprotectants fluids prevents formation of ice crystals in embryos.
Fertility doctors typically recommend freezing embryos rather than oocyte. Statistics show that pregnancy rates are just as high in properly frozen embryos as in fresh embryos which have never been frozen. The same cannot be said for frozen oocyte; pregnancy rates for frozen oocyte are 15-20 lower than those for frozen embryos.
Cryopreservation is a safe procedure that allows the woman to take her time in planning a family. The process for retrieving the oocyte has been proven to be both effective and safe. The methodologies for egg freezing have decreased the likelihood of an egg being damaged during IVF and the egg freezing processes. New guidelines have made the processes, cryopreservation and IVF, safer for the woman.