Healthy women opting to freeze eggs


Oocyte cryopreservation use to be a procedure saving the fertility of women suffering the side effects of cancer treatment. More and more, it’s a process saving the fertility of women suffering the side effects of simple aging.

As more women delay motherhood, they are finding that cryopreservation is an option for saving their healthy young eggs. Not only does fertility decrease as a woman ages, but the quality of her eggs does as well. An unhealthy egg could result in a miscarriage no matter the health of the mother. So women are freezing their eggs and keeping their options open.

The process, while expensive, is not as challenging as one might think. The first step is usually attending some kind of class or seminar provided by a clinic on the process, the risks and the success rates. If you want to continue, you would learn how to inject yourself with a hormone called gonadotropin that stimulates the ovaries into producing multiple, viable eggs. The shots are begun after starting your period and continue for seven to nine days. During this time, the egg producing follicles will grow, hormone levels will be monitored and the eggs will be examined through ultrasound.

A trigger shot is administered when everything is a go. About two days later, egg retrieval begins. There are a couple of different ways the eggs are frozen, most clinics will use both methods to increase their chances for success.

The cost is significant: right under $10,000 to remove and freeze. Up to $3000 to thaw. Once thawed they are fertilized using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) where one sperm is injected directly into the cell. After that, the fertilized egg is implanted. The success rate is hard to know since that data is not collected. But we do know that in 2009 936 babies were born worldwide from cryopreserved eggs. So far, no birth defects have been detected.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says that the process is “experimental” and warns that healthy women should not use it as a way to beat reproductive aging until there is a more “proven scientific information” available. That’s not likely to happen as more women want more options. Especially when it comes to creating their family.

Source: Chicago Tribune


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