What is Fertility Preservation?
Oocyte cryopreservation, or egg freezing, is a relatively new procedure in the field of assisted reproductive technologies.
While human egg (oocyte) freezing, or cryopreservation, first had its start in the 1980’s, it has become more prevalent since 2007 with the improvements in egg (oocyte) vitrification (rapid freezing). Historically, egg freezing has been utilized for young women that are facing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, who wish to freeze eggs so that if their egg supply is destroyed by the cancer therapy – they will still have their own genetic material available for childbearing.
Since the advent of better freezing techniques (i.e. vitrification) and media beginning in 2007, egg freezing has now become a more popular treatment offered at a handful of fertility centers worldwide for both cancer patients and for women who are concerned with their advancing reproductive age, but not in a position to have children yet. The concept of “fertility preservation” offers hope to women who previously had no options for the future creation of a family.
Who may benefit from fertility preservation with egg freezing?
It is a known fact that women in the 21st century are waiting longer than ever prior to trying to achieve a pregnancy. Meanwhile, age is a leading determinant and hindrance of fertility. Fertility in women is greatest between the ages of 20 and 28 years of age. In addition, by the age of 35, a woman’s chance of conceiving per month is decreased by half; by age 45, the natural fertility rate per month is as low as 1%.
At Advanced Fertility Care we are proud to offer egg freezing to women up to age 38 who are interested in this service, presuming that their ovarian function is not already compromised.
Success Rates of Egg Freezing
According to much of the preliminary data, the expected pregnancy rates for frozen embryo transfers derived from frozen eggs is similar to those rates for frozen embryo transfers of previously frozen embryos rather than eggs. However, the success rate per cycle using embryos from fertilized eggs that have previously been frozen is usually lower than from the IVF success rates of transfer of fresh embryos (embryos created from eggs that have not been frozen). The overall success rate depends on several issues:
- age of the woman when the eggs were formed
- egg quality and maturity
- status of the egg at thaw
- quality of the embryos formed and any other factor that would otherwise influence IVF success such as sperm quality used for fertilization.
Recent data suggests overall oocyte survival after vitrification and warming ranged between 90%-97%, fertilization rates were between 71%-79%, implantation rates were 17%-41%, and clinical pregnancy rates per transfer ranged from 36%-61%.
The recommended maximum age of 38, for undergoing Oocyte cryopreservation, has been set because current scientific data shows significantly lower success rates for women who are older than 39. As the techniques and technology improves over time, this age limit may change. Therefore, if fertility preservation is the goal, the survivability and potential success of the egg once it is warmed must be considered prior to its freezing.
How does the IVF process work for the purpose fertility preservation?
As with anyone wishing to undergo IVF, the process of fertility preservation begins with a consultation with Drs. Zoneraich, Larsen or Kummer. Once the consultation is complete, the doctor will proceed with a similar diagnostic evaluation as would be required of any woman wishing to undergo IVF with some few exceptions. Once the diagnostic evaluation is completed confirming a woman’s eligibility based on ovarian reserve testing, the patient will then undergo the IVF stimulation process up to and including the egg retrieval. After the eggs are retrieved, the IVF laboratory will vitrify and store them for the patient’s future use. The entire process from screening to freezing will usually occur within two months from initial consultation.
Costs for fertility preservation?
The cost for fertility preservation takes into account that no embryo transfer is performed. However, the techniques and supplies needed to vitrify eggs in the laboratory do add a great deal of embryologist time and expense to the process. The price of IVF with oocyte vitrification for fertility preservation is $7500 not including the cost of medication, however, this may be subject to change in the future. See complete price list for fertility preservation and egg freezing.
If you would like more information about this exciting, but currently experimental, technology please call our office to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.