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Preserving Fertility with Egg Freezing
Written in partnership with Dr. John Frattarelli, Fertility Institute of Hawaii, July 21, 2014
Do you plan to have children one day, but you haven’t found the right partner? Or is your career or education a priority right now? If so, consider preserving your fertility with egg freezing. Egg freezing, when done by a skilled fertility doctor and a lab that uses a technique called vitrification, is enabling women up to age 40 the opportunity to preserve their fertility and start their family when they are ready.
According to Dr. John Frattarelli, a fertility doctor with Fertility Institute of Hawaii, “Many fertility practices that use vitrification, including our own, have an 80 percent survival rate of the thawed eggs and fertilization rates as high as 80 percent.”
Why Freeze Your Eggs?
A woman is most fertile in her 20s, and as you age the quantity and quality of your eggs continues to decline. A woman who is age 40 has a 5 percent chance of getting pregnant naturally each month.
So it makes sense that more and more women in their early to mid-30’s are freezing their eggs. Younger, more fertile eggs are frozen and available when you’re ready to start your family.
The Egg Freezing Cycle
An egg freezing cycle generally takes two to four weeks. During a consultation with a fertility doctor, you will discuss your medical history, and you will have a physical exam and an ultrasound to view your ovaries and uterus. One or more blood tests will evaluate your hormone levels to provide information about your ovarian reserve.
Once you begin your egg freezing cycle, you’ll take birth control to regulate your cycle. You’ll learn how to inject fertility drugs, and when it’s time to start those, you’ll continue them daily for up to two weeks. The clinic will monitor your progress with bloodwork and ultrasounds daily or every other day.
Once your eggs are mature, the doctor will retrieve them and the eggs will be frozen with vitrification. Vitrification is a newer technique that has been shown to be the best and only method to freeze mature eggs and get good fertilization and pregnancy rates. The eggs can be kept frozen (cryopreserved) until you are ready to start your family.
You’ll aim to produce 15 to 20 eggs. If not, the doctor may suggest you do a second egg freezing cycle.
Egg freezing is ready available in Hawaii and across the US. In countries where the procedure is not available, many women choose to travel to a center in the US.