Between 2009 and 2013, fertility preservation through egg freezing skyrocketed. In 2009 there were less than 500 women who chose to freeze their eggs at a fertility clinic in the United States, however in 2013 there was a record of nearly 4,000 women! The increasing popularity of fertility preservation can be attributed to the safe and helpful procedure of egg freezing.
Egg freezing is the process in which women preserve their eggs when they are not yet ready to become pregnant but want to later in their future. Freezing their eggs help preserve their fertility because as women age, the ovarian reserve deplete and the quality of these eggs diminish. Aside from the main reason of wanting higher quality eggs for when they are ready to start or grow their family, women may have a variety of reasons to want to preserve their eggs. For instance, women may consider egg freezing if they have a medical condition such as an autoimmune disease or sickle cell anemia, which would eventually affect their fertility. Additionally, women who will be seeking cancer treatment should think about freezing their eggs because radiation and chemotherapy can have adverse effects on their fertility. Freezing eggs before undergoing treatment will help enable them to have biological children if they so wish. Individuals who have been exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace would also benefit in preserving their fertility, since these chemicals may affect the viability and health of their gametes if exposure is continued. Lastly, women who have endometriosis or uterine fibroids should highly consider egg freezing for future plans. No matter what your reason for seeking egg freezing, our doctors at Reproductive Sciences Medical Center will gladly help you in your journey to preserve your fertility.
Apart from having a team of highly experienced physicians (with a collective experience of over 150 years), Reproductive Sciences Medical Center has a state-of-the-art IVF Laboratory in place. This guarantees you a safe and convenient mode of egg harvesting and storage. With an on-site laboratory, we eliminate the risks associated with transportation from the clinic to the lab.
The Egg Freezing Process
At RSMC, we simplified the process through which your eggs are preserved. The steps undertaken in the egg freezing process are quite similar to in vitro fertilization (IVF). We begin with fertility-enhancing medications which stimulate the ovaries to release multiple eggs. This phase lasts for ten days and involves injections of natural hormones.
The next step involves a series of laboratory tests and ultrasound monitoring. Our physicians will keep a close eye on you before, during and after the medication process to assess the development of your follicles and subsequent growth of your eggs. If the eggs have fully matured, you will receive one injection of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), which prepares eggs for complete ovulation). This phase normally takes an average of one cycle to produce 12 to 15 eggs.
Egg retrieval is the final phase. Here, your embryologist will retrieve eggs from the ovarian follicles through the guidance of an ultrasound. The process is painless since you will be under complete sedation. The retrieval is a short procedure and typically lasts 20 minutes or less. After the procedure, you can resume your normal activities.
As noted earlier, Fertility Preservation has been a success. However, egg freezing was previously faced with myriads of challenges which made it not suitable for women with infertility problems. The chances of a successfully frozen and thawed egg to result in a successful pregnancy and delivery stood at 5%, a much lesser rate compared to what stands today. The main reason for the low rate of success was due to the method of freezing.
The highly overrated traditional techniques of freezing eggs did more harm to eggs than good. Typically, eggs have high water content, and as a result, it is very easy for ice crystals to develop on them. As a result, the crystals damaged their structure and subsequently made it nearly impossible for the eggs to withstand the freezing/thawing process. For those strong enough to go through, their quality was greatly affected and, therefore, was insufficient to give life.
However, with the ever-developing techniques in the health industry (which we have embraced at RSMC), that is a story of the past. The recently introduced method of egg freezing, commonly referred to as Vitrification, secures the eggs from the formation of such ice crystals. Apart from freezing eggs 600 times faster than the traditional methods, Vitrification completely dehydrates the eggs. But when the time comes for the woman to use these eggs, the process is reversed and they are re-dehydrated to their original state.
The past failure in frozen eggs can also be attributed to the inability to identify and distinguish competent chromosomal eggs which would successfully result in a baby. A majority of frozen eggs led to miscarriages and failed pregnancies when transferred to the uterus due to a lack of chromosomal normalcy. Therefore, for the process to be successful there must be utmost consideration in identifying high-quality eggs. Given that at least 90% of human eggs are chromosomally abnormal; our doctors must carry out thorough tests on you and the eggs before storing them for future use.
At Reproductive Sciences Medical Center, we are here to walk with you step by step in the journey towards parenthood through Fertility Preservation. If you have any issues concerning egg freezing you wish to be addressed, please contact us today on 858-436-7186.