Egg freezing is a reproductive technique available at the Herts & Essex Fertility Centre that enables healthy, young women the opportunity to preserve their fertility. We know that frozen eggs can be stored safely in liquid nitrogen for many years and our regulatory body, the HFEA, allows UK clinics to store frozen eggs for up to 10 years, enabling you to use them for your treatment in the future. This may be when you have met the right partner, or you are financially or emotionally ready to start your family.
Is egg freezing for me?
Fertility is, unfortunately, age dependent and your chance of a successful pregnancy with frozen eggs is higher if your eggs are frozen at a very early reproductive age.
Success rates for treatment using frozen eggs depend upon many different factors so, when faced with a patient enquiring about egg freezing, we will always be honest and realistic. We will provide an account of what egg freezing treatment involves, its advantages and disadvantages, and the potential success rates. As long as the decision is an informed and balanced one, we would never discourage a woman from choosing to freeze her eggs.
Advancements in egg freezing technology, using a rapid cryopreservation procedure known as vitrification, has led to significantly improved success rates, with almost 100% of eggs surviving the freezing and thawing process. Success rates worldwide are improving. A recent clinical study of (Cobo 2008*) 57 volunteers (693 vitrified eggs) found:
- 96.1% vitrified eggs survived the thawing
- 73.1% of warmed eggs were fertilised
- 38.5% implantation rate per embryo
- 63.2% pregnancy rate per transfer.
Egg freezing is an option to consider for fertility preservation if you are at risk of premature ovarian failure, premature menopause or if you are having surgery to remove your ovaries. Egg freezing can also help preserve your fertility if you are undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment for illnesses such as cancer.
Egg freezing is also fast-becoming a serious consideration for the many women who are interested in preserving their fertility for social reasons. Elective Egg Freezing (also known as Social Egg Freezing) is fertility preservation for non-medical or non-emergency reasons. For many varied reasons, women in the UK are choosing to start their families later in life; therefore the opportunity to freeze your eggs at a young age and preserve your fertility is an attractive option. Elective Egg Freezing offers you the opportunity to plan your family for a convenient time in your life, free from the concern that your fertility may be impaired as you grow older.
What is involved in egg freezing?
You will require an initial appointment with one of our consultants who will discuss the details of the treatment with you and to ensure that egg freezing is the right option. Also, as with any fertility treatment, you will be required to have the usual routine screening for infectious diseases. You will have ample opportunity to discuss your treatment thoroughly with our experienced team as well as undertaking mandatory counselling with an independent specialist fertility counsellor.
To retrieve your eggs you will begin on an IVF treatment cycle using daily injections of reproductive hormones to stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs. When your eggs reach an optimal size, they are removed from your ovaries by a clinician, using a needle under ultrasound guidance. This simple procedure takes place in one of our own theatres while you are under sedation. It is at this point that our embryology team will freeze and store your eggs until you decide that you are ready to use them.
How do I use my frozen eggs?
When you are ready to start a family using your frozen eggs, you will be commenced on a course of medication to prepare your uterus to ensure it is synchronised and ready to receive an embryo created from your frozen eggs. ICSI is the recommended laboratory technique to maximise the chance of fertilisation with frozen eggs and involves the injection of a single sperm directly into the egg to achieve fertilisation. An embryologist will update you daily on fertilisation and embryo development, and to guide you as to when to return to the clinic for your embryo transfer.
Next steps …