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Freezing Eggs in Austin, TX
Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, has been around for several decades; however, it was not very successful until recently due to a newer process called "vitrification."
Today, egg freezing offers hope to women in Austin, TX, facing some types of cancer and/or cancer treatment that may damage their eggs or destroy ovarian function, as well as those who have not found the right partner or who have delayed having children for various reasons. In addition, egg freezing offers an option to Austin women who have produced extra eggs for an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle but don’t want to destroy or donate their unused eggs to research.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Egg Freezing?
There are several different candidates for egg freezing:
- Women diagnosed with cancer who will require chemotherapy or other treatment that could damage the eggs.
- Women with certain non-cancerous disorders who face potential sterility associated with their disease, such as women with benign tumors or endometriosis, women who test positive for the BRCA gene or who have a strong history of ovarian cancer and may want their ovaries removed, or women with autoimmune diseases whose medicine may be toxic to their eggs or may experience premature menopause.
- Women ages late 20s to 40 who do not have a partner or for other personal or medical reasons need to delay childbearing and wish to preserve their chances of having a biologic child.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) does warn that “oocyte cryopreservation … remains an experimental procedure that should not be offered or marketed as a means to defer reproductive aging.” ASRM recommends that women exploring egg freezing should set up consultations at at an Austin fertility clinic and ask about treatment options, oocyte freezing methods, success rates and policies about disposing unused eggs.
The Process of Freezing Your Eggs
To freeze eggs, fertility doctors stimulate a woman’s ovaries to produce a half dozen eggs (more than the regular one egg per cycle), with fertility drugs. Oocyte cryopreservation requires retrieval of the eggs from the ovaries in the same manner as is performed for in vitro fertilization (IVF). Fertility drugs are administered by subcutaneous (under the skin) injections for approximately two weeks to allow the eggs to reach maturity.
The eggs' development is monitored with transvaginal ultrasounds (sonograms) and blood work. When the eggs mature, a final injection medication is given. Thirty-six hours later, the patient receives sedation and the eggs are removed from the ovaries by placing a needle through the vaginal wall into each ovary using ultrasound guidance.
The eggs are then frozen. Vitrification is done by placing an egg or embryo in a small volume of a medium containing the egg cryoprotectant. It is then cooled at an extremely rapid rate, and the vitrified oocyte is stored in liquid nitrogen until it needs to be thawed and utilized.
Success Rates of Freezing Eggs
A woman’s egg quality peaks between 16 to 28 years old during her reproductive prime. Eggs can still be acceptable from age 29 to 38 (the mid-reproductive years), but their quality diminishes greatly from age 39 to 44.
Although embryos (fertilized eggs) and sperm have been successfully frozen and thawed to create healthy babies for several decades, only recently has egg freezing been successful. Previously, the only method that could be used to freeze eggs was a slow-freezing method, which could cause ice crystals to form within the egg. A newer specialized freezing technique called vitrification freezes the egg so quickly that ice crystals don't have time to form.
“Until recently, egg freezing wasn’t really a choice for women,” says Kaylen Silverberg, M.D., a fertility doctor with Texas Fertility Center in Austin. “Eggs, the body’s largest cell, are comprised mainly of water and they have historically been very difficult to freeze successfully. Vitrification, or ultra-rapid freezing, has enabled us to help our patients have the families they desire by giving them another treatment option.”
The cost of oocyte cryopreservation is similar to the cost of an IVF cycle.
Egg Freezing in Austin
Texas Fertility Center in Austin recently celebrated the first birth in Central Texas from the new frozen egg technology. The couple welcomed their second child using a frozen donor egg.