What is egg freezing?
Egg freezing is a relatively new technology which allows a woman’s unfertilized eggs to be extracted, dehydrated, frozen, and stored for implantation at a later date. The ASRM still considers egg freezing to be an experimental procedure.
Who is a candidate for egg freezing?
- Women who are able to undertake hormone therapy to boost egg production
- Cancer patients whose eggs may be damaged with treatment
- Women whose religious or personal convictions prevent them from considering freezing embryos
- Women who would like to have children but who haven’t yet found a partner, or who wish to pursue career- or education-related goals before starting a family.
How is egg freezing performed?
Egg freezing begins with several weeks of multiple hormone therapies to increase egg production and control ovulation cycles. In order to ensure the highest success rate, women are needed to freeze multiple eggs.
Once egg production is increased, the eggs are extracted using a needle inserted through the vagina and guided by ultrasound. The patient is sedated during the procedure, which is performed on an outpatient visit, usually at the fertility clinic. The freezing process, called cryopreservation, is similar to that of embryo freezing.
Two methods are utilized during the cyropreservation: slow freeze and vitrification. Slow freeze involves the gradual freezing process of cryoprservation, while vitrification is a newer quick freeze technology.
What are the risks of egg freezing?
The intensive hormone therapy required to allow a woman to produce a large number of eggs may carry some risks, depending upon the patient’s health history. Patients considering egg freezing should bear in mind that, as with any procedure, there are no guarantees of success. Statistically, unfertilized eggs have a lower chance of surviving the thawing process than fertilized embryos with a success rate below 10%. Although the egg structure may survive the process, the eggs may not be viable for use in fertilization.
What are the benefits of egg freezing?
Women produce only a certain number of eggs in a lifetime, and egg production stops with the onset of menopause. Also, older women are more likely to have eggs with inherent genetic defects. For these reasons, egg freezing is especially beneficial for these women.
What is the cost of egg freezing?
The cost of egg freezing includes a number of components, including initial testing, hormone therapy to increase egg production, extraction, and storage fees, which generally require an initial outlay of between $11,000 and $13,000. After the first year, expect to pay from $400 to $600 per year in storage fees. Egg thawing, fertilization, and transfer of the embryo are billed separately, and costs range from $4,000 to $5,500.