Egg Freezing

The Immediate Services of egg freezing, or “vitrification”, is available to provide a fertility preservation plan for younger women who are about to undergo cancer therapy.

An example of egg freezing for a medical indication would be a woman between the ages of 15 and 41 years who is diagnosed with a treatable malignancy that will require chemotherapy or radiation treatments to a part of the body near the ovaries. Another example would be a woman who requires surgical removal of her ovaries for a benign or questionable disease process. In these cases, if time permits and the treating doctor(s) approves, the patient can undergo one (and occasionally additional treatment cycles to store a batch of eggs).

If cancer is diagnosed and you are interested in freezing eggs, it is important to call your cancer doctor and our center as soon as possible so that the cancer and egg freezing treatments can be coordinated.

The oocyte cryopreservation treatment takes about two weeks and is usually fit in between your initial diagnostic procedures and your cancer treatment.

Egg Freezing is a relatively new, FDA-approved technology. This makes quoting success rates difficult as most patients that we have harvested for this purpose are still undergoing cancer treatment. Nevertheless we believe that this is a viable option for many patients desiring to preserve their fertility.

To date, there are over 900 births worldwide (greater than 600 reported in the last three years) as a result of egg freezing.

Unfertilized Eggs

New technology is now making successful freezing of less-stable, unfertilized eggs a reality. The fast-freezing technology, known as “vitrification”, has virtually eliminated the formation of ice crystals which previously made the freezing of unfertilized eggs much less reliable.

Now, for the first time, women have an entirely new option at Advanced Fertility in Columbia. They can choose to have their own younger, healthier eggs frozen for use later in life. Since women are born with all of their eggs and the quality of those eggs declines throughout their lives, this is an important, new option for many women. For instance:

  • A younger woman diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer often has her egg stores damaged from radiation and chemotherapy. Vitrification gives these women the option to freeze eggs before treatment, having them available later when their cancer is in remission and they wish to start a family.
  • Women with a life-plan to concentrate on their careers may delay having a family but desire to have the option of using their “younger” eggs when they reach the point in life that family becomes a priority. The success rate is most-closely tied to the biological age of the eggs frozen. This means a woman in her 40’s can have the opportunity to still have her own biological child with the availability of the younger, healthier egg, it simply opens many fertility options for women.

Fertilized Eggs or Embryos

Freezing unfertilized eggs, often additional eggs from an IVF procedure, has a long history of viability with pregnancy success rates continuing to improve. Often, couples freeze unused embryos to provide the opportunity to use the “frozens” to have additional children.

Once harvested and fertilized, these frozen eggs which are now embryos, are available for use at a later time. This allow couples to add to their family without the need for more ovarian stimulation of the woman. This decreases the investment needed for these additional procedures.

The technology to freeze and thaw embryos has improved to the point that pregnancy rates rival that of fresh egg cycles.

Couples are also given the option of putting their surplus frozen embryo up for adoption for other couples unable to produce viable embryos.

Cancer Patients

With the advent of “vitrification” or a new, high-technology, unfertilized egg-freezing procedure, younger women have a new option to preserve the opportunity to have their own biological child in their future.

Because women are born with all of their eggs, and because many forms of cancer treatment, such as radiation and chemotherapy, damage or destroy these egg stores, more oncologists are referring women to fertility specialists for counseling prior to cancer treatment.

In many cases, these women will make the decision to freeze their healthy eggs prior to undergoing cancer treatment.

When cancer treatment is successful, and the woman is in remission, she may wish to consider starting a family and have her own biological child. At that time, some of her frozen eggs are thawed, fertilized by her partner’s sperm, matured 3-5 days and then implanted by ultrasound guidance into her uterus. She is then able to have the full birth experience, carrying the baby to term and giving birth.

Prior to the development of vitrification, women undergoing cancer treatment were limited to using donated eggs. This exciting new fertility development gives female cancer patients a wonderful new opportunity to have their biological child.