Egg Freezing – Conquering Your Biological Clock!!

“My biological clock is ticking away”…  How often do we in the fertility field hear this statement?  Ironically, and somewhat surprisingly, in the fast-paced modern day society we live in, the answer may actually be: not enough.  For the aging of a female’s egg reserve, or “ovarian reserve”, is one of the most consistent, predictable, and inevitable factors in all of reproductive medicine.

And yet it is all too often ignored, especially when the desire to have a child is not a pressing issue for a young woman at that point in her life.  However the reality is that the window of optimal fertility begins to close rapidly as women age through their 30’s; in fact data demonstrates that a 35-year-old-female is half as fertile as when she was 25.

egg freezingAs a result, a growing technology has emerged, and is rapidly gaining popularity, to assist many such women in preserving their reproductive potential; i.e. to conquer their biological clock.  This therapy is known as Oocyte Cryopreservation, or more simply put, Egg Freezing.

In 2008, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) held the position that oocyte cryopreservation is “experimental” due to the limited number of established pregnancies and deliveries from cryopreserved oocytes.  However since that time, a vast number of studies have emerged that demonstrate adequate scientific evidence of safety and efficacy of this treatment.

In addition, no increase in chromosomal abnormalities, birth defects, and developmental deficits has been reported in the offspring born from frozen eggs.  Therefore, the evidence indicates that oocyte vitrification and warming (freezing and thawing) should no longer be considered experimental (Mature oocyte cryopreservation: a guideline, The Practice Committees of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 99, No. 1, January 2013, pages 37-43). 

As a result, egg freezing in humans is currently a commonly practiced technique with no clearly proven increase in birth defects, and furthermore, the anticipated success rates of achieving pregnancy should be similar to that Center’s pregnancy rates from fresh in-vitro-fertilization (IVF) therapy.

In 1986, the first baby conceived using an egg that was previously frozen and thawed was born.  Today, over 2000 healthy babies have been born worldwide, and well over 5,000 women nationwide are taking advantage of this technological breakthrough.

There are many circumstances in which egg freezing can be highly beneficial for fertility preservation.  These include for social reasons, such as the elective desire to postpone childbearing, in cancer patients, especially those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, in young patients facing ovarian surgery, for young women with a strong family history of premature ovarian failure, and for single women not yet involved in a parenting relationship; i.e. have not yet met “Mr. Right”.

Whatever the reason may be, this treatment empowers women, in essence allowing them to be their own future egg donors.  As Dr. Rachel Wellner, director of breast services at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, so eloquently stated, “It’s an insurance policy… I spent all this money on my education… dollars on my reproductive future is relatively inexpensive”.

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