Egg Freezing in NYC
Today, many women choose to delay motherhood until they have reached certain career goals. Such a delay often means greater difficulty in achieving pregnancy and keeping it.
- After age 37, a woman’s reproductive potential begins to decline rapidly, while her risk of miscarriage increases.
- This is because the ovaries and the eggs they contain age with chronological age, even if a woman may look 10-15 years younger.
- A woman tends to ovulate her best eggs between her first menses and age 30.
- Her fertility potential then starts to decline, because she has fewer eggs left, which do not have the optimal quality that they had during her prime reproductive years.
Fortunately, with egg freezing and in vitro fertilization (IVF), women can retain their healthiest eggs to use later on when they’re ready to have children. If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, we can help. Learn more about egg freezing at our NYC fertility clinic below, or request a consultation today using the form on this page.
Ovarian Reserve and Egg Quality
An important factor to consider when opting for egg freezing is the ovarian reserve, which refers to:
- The number of egg-bearing follicles still left in the individual woman’s follicle pool, and
- The quality of her remaining eggs.
This is determined at the start of the menstrual cycle by her levels of the hormones FSH, estradiol, and anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH), which are markers of ovarian reserve. AMH has been shown to be predictive of pregnancy chances for IVF patients. Women younger than 35 who have regular periods generally show good ovarian reserve. They can produce at least eight mature eggs and as many as 20 during a cycle of stimulation.
Egg freezing allows women to ‘beat the biological clock’ and store eggs during their optimal reproductive years for later use to either start or expand their family. Egg freezing is also an option to preserve fertility for women who may require chemotherapy and radiation for cancer or surgical removal of the ovaries. The procedure must be done before they undergo these types of treatments.
At present, the average survival rate of the thawing and fertilization rate of frozen eggs is 75-95% in women younger than 38. A study by one of the premier IVF centers in America with extensive experience in frozen-egg IVF showed that the pregnancy and birth rates were as high among women who used vitrified eggs as with women who used fresh eggs.
Egg Freezing Technique
Compared to semen freezing and embryo freezing which have been routinely done in the past three decades, egg freezing with a high likelihood of pregnancy only became feasible for most IVF labs in the past decade. The first successful pregnancy from frozen eggs was reported in 1986.
However, the pregnancy rate with frozen eggs stayed at 1-3%, even in specialized centers around the world, because of a major technical problem with freezing eggs.
- The egg cell is the largest human cell, 30 times bigger than a sperm cell.
- Therefore, its water content is high compared to other cells.
- Significant ice formation within the cell during the freezing process was an ever-present risk.
- Intracellular ice formation damages the cell structure.
The breakthrough in egg freezing technique came with two technical advances:
- Cryoprotective agents appropriate to the egg cell were formulated that reduce the water content of the egg cell before freezing and therefore minimize ice formation.
- Ultra-rapid freezing in a process called vitrification prevents ice formation within the cell.
Egg Freezing and the IVF Process
Egg freezing must be done in the context of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to maximize the number of eggs that can be retrieved for freezing.
- As with women undergoing regular IVF, the ovaries must be stimulated with daily fertility medications injected over a 10-12 day period.
- The resulting eggs will then be retrieved in a simple procedure done under sedation anesthesia.
- All mature viable eggs retrieved will be isolated, cleaned and appropriately frozen in the IVF laboratory.
- The patient can undergo stimulation and retrieval as many times as she wants in order to store more eggs.
- The patient will choose a licensed tissue bank in which to keep the frozen eggs for long-term storage.
What Happens After IVF
At the time she chooses to use the eggs, the patient can go to any IVF clinic of her choice to continue the rest of the IVF process.
- She will have the frozen eggs brought to the clinic for the procedure in an appropriate storage tank from the tissue bank.
- She will be given two weeks of pre-transfer estrogen and progesterone by her fertility physician to prepare her uterine lining for an embryo transfer.
- The IVF laboratory will thaw the eggs and inseminate them through intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) with sperm from the patient’s partner or an appropriately screened sperm donor.
- The inseminated eggs will be cultured in the laboratory for 3-5 days depending on the quality of the resulting embryos.
- Embryo transfer will be done using the number of viable embryos deemed appropriate for the patient’s age and medical history.
- Assisted hatching and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) may be done on these embryos before they are transferred.
- Any leftover viable embryos will be frozen to be available for a frozen embryo transfer if the patient should need or desire it.
- Any frozen eggs that were not used for this procedure will remain available for the patient’s future use.