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The Big Thaw

Boston Globe,  July 26, 2010

Doctors have been freezing sperm for 60 years and embryos (fertilized eggs) for 30. The first pregnancy from a frozen egg occurred in 1986.

But it’s been only in the past few years that fertility specialists have begun freezing eggs with any regularity — so short a time that two major professional groups, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, still consider egg freezing experimental. They caution that a request to freeze eggs should be considered by an institutional review board before being granted.

Freezing eggs for non-medical reasons — a healthy woman choosing to harvest and preserve her eggs for conceiving a baby sometime in the future — is new enough that there are few reliable statistics on how successful the procedure is. “Success’’ in such cases means a take-home baby, not just an egg that is frozen without damage, or thawed safely, or even fertilized to yield a genetically normal, healthy embryo.

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