Egg (Oocyte) Freezing
The ability to freeze human eggs has rapidly evolved over the past several years. With the use of the vitrification method for freezing the success rates for thawed/fertilized and subsequently transferred embryos is the same as it is in fresh IVF treatment cycles. That probability depends on the age of the female when the freezing was done. Typically the success rate for a baby would be in the 25-65% range, the younger the age the higher the probability.
There are many reasons to do egg freezing:
- Prior to chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer
- Age related decline in egg quality – family history of early menopause
- Delayed child-bearing because of education or personal reasons
- Not yet at a desired relationship status
- Optimizing health prior to pregnancy but worried about age when ready
Egg freezing allows for more flexibility for women. The treatment has empowered the reproductive options for women and couples to maximize the future potential having a baby.
The egg freezing at NOVA has been available since 2009. We have perfected the egg freezing process with the most up to date vitrification methods. Our embryologist have pioneered some of the original work on the vitrification process. The success of the eggs in the future depends on the skill of the embryologist that performs the vitrification. If the egg freezing process is not absolutely perfect, there could be a minimal or potentially no survival of the eggs. This could be a major problem if the thawing procedure happens when the patient’s current age is no longer young enough to produce quality eggs.
It is important to choose a provider that is experienced and using technology that gives you the best chance for having a baby when you decide to use your eggs in the future. Freezing eggs is not enough, freezing eggs with the best embryologist is critical. At NOVA we can offer that highest level of expertise to safeguard your fertility potential.
Process of Egg Freezing
Below is an example of an egg freezing treatment sequence. Actual treatment is individualized.
1. Ovarian Stimulation
To maximize the probability of a live birth, we use FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) to stimulate production of multiple eggs (usually 6-14 eggs). These hormones are administered as subcutaneous injections.
During the 8 to 12 day ovarian stimulation, several ultrasound examinations and blood estrogen determinations are used to follow the development of the follicles. When the follicles have developed to the appropriate size, they are prepared for retrieval and a trigger medication is used to allow for the final maturation of the egg inside the follicle. In this final maturation step the egg gently lifts off the side of the follicle wall and floats in the middle of the follicular fluid on a small tether of cells.
2. Egg Retrieval
Thirty-five to thirty-seven hours after the hCG injection, a non-surgical oocyte retrieval is performed at NOVA. This is typically a 3 to 7 minute procedure.
Using ultrasound guidance, a thin aspirating needle is passed through the top of the vagina into the follicles. Only the tip of the aspirating needle enters the pelvic area. Since the ovaries are located just above the top of the vagina, the tip of the needle is passed into the follicles without penetrating the uterus, cervix or the fallopian tubes.
3. Egg Freezing
Several hours after the egg retrieval the eggs are prepared for the vitrification process. All eggs that are mature or almost mature will be frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen until they are ready to be used in the future.