What is egg freezing? Also called “egg (or oocyte) vitrification, egg cryopreservation and egg storage”
This is a fertility treatment that collects eggs from the body and stores them for future use by freezing them with a technique called vitrification. The eggs are collected through IVF treatment. These eggs can be thawed out (or warmed) in the future and fertilized with sperm to produce embryos. These embryos can then be placed inside the prepared womb (uterus) to give a chance of pregnancy. Egg freezing effectively suspends the egg in time, to preserve fertility, until later when the woman wishes a pregnancy.
Who might need egg freezing?
Egg freezing is usually offered to single women with medical conditions, for example;
- before cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or pelvic radiotherapy that are likely to lead to partial or complete egg loss
- before surgery to remove the ovaries, e.g. endometriosis or ovarian cysts
- women with a family history of early menopause
- due to some other rare medical conditions and drug treatments that might affect a woman’s eggs
Egg freezing is now also possible for non-medical or social reasons, in women who wish to delay having children until they are older. It is well known that fertility declines quickly as a woman gets older. Freezing eggs when a woman is young and healthy may give a much better chance of a future pregnancy.
What is involved in egg freezing?
– Free nurse consultation. A blood test to assess your current egg levels along with some other basic tests is needed. Information on the process is also given.
– Doctors appointment. The doctor will review your situation in detail and go through the options you have. Egg freezing has different success rates for everyone and it is important that you understand what the treatment will mean for you.
– Preparing for treatment Before IVF treatment you will need to have some routine blood tests and complete consent forms. It is also helpful to understand the process clearly, so we ask you to attend a free IVF nurse discussion to go through your treatment in detail. A free appointment with our clinic counselors is also available and recommended for everyone considering this treatment.
– Having your treatment to collect and free eggs. IVF treatment involves growing eggs by using fertility injections for between 8-14 days, followed by the egg collection procedure. See information sheet on IVF (LC63).
– Having your treatment to thaw your eggs and transfer your embryo. When you are ready to try for a pregnancy you will have the treatment of preparing you for an embryo transfer and having the eggs thawed out and fertilised with sperm.
How well does egg freezing work?
Egg freezing does work to create babies, however only a small number of women have been through this procedure worldwide. At the moment it is difficult to give reliable success rates. Generally, the younger a woman is at egg freezing, the better her chance of a pregnancy from the eggs will be. If good quality eggs are frozen an average of 75% will survive the thawing process. Fertilisation then occurs in 60-70% of these thawed eggs. This means that it is best to freeze ten or more eggs in one treatment cycle to have a reasonable chance of a pregnancy in the future.
Worldwide, data at present shows that babies born from frozen eggs have no increase in abnormalities or birth defects.
How long is it safe to store frozen eggs?
The length of time that the eggs are frozen does not seem to affect the success rate of achieving a pregnancy or healthy birth. We store both embryos and eggs for five years and can extend this time period when required.
How much does egg freezing cost?
There are several costs to consider.
- The initial cost to see the doctor and have the necessary investigations
- The IVF procedure and drugs needed to collect and store the eggs
- Annual storage fees for your frozen eggs
- The thawing procedure and embryo transfer treatment when you are ready for pregnancy
These costs are different for everyone and we can advise you of the likely costs at the present time in the clinic, after your assessments.
What are the risks of egg freezing?
There are the risks of going through an IVF treatment to consider (see info sheet LC63). Also, as egg freezing is still a relatively new technique not all eggs will survive the freezing and thawing process or become fertilised by sperm.
Will there be any follow up by clinic staff?
We understand that this can be a difficult and emotional time for you. Should you wish to access any supportive counselling regarding this treatment please contact our reception staff at either office to make an appointment.
The clinic will write to you annually to check that you are well and find out if you wish to keep the eggs in storage. The eggs are subject to an annual storage fee, currently $2000.00 TTD but this could increase over time, for the upkeep of the eggs storage solution (liquid nitrogen) and for safe monitoring.
On-going contact with the clinic is encouraged. It is THE PATIENTS responsibility to contact the clinic if ANY contact details have changed i.e. change of address or phone number. If the clinic is unable to easily contact you, this is considered abandonment and your case will be forwarded to the Internal Ethics Committee for review and possible disposal.
Where can I get more information?
HFEA is UK government website has the latest and best advice on all fertility treatment including egg freezing. ASRM is USA website has the latest and best advice on all fertility treatment including egg freezing.
For further information please contact us