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Freezing Your Eggs: Who and Why
It is estimated that more than 1,000 births worldwide have been reported using frozen eggs since 1986, most of which have been in the last few years thanks to advancing egg freezing technologies.
The success of egg freezing depends on many factors including a woman’s age when her eggs are extracted, the freezing and thawing methods used, her age when she attempts pregnancy using her preserved eggs, and the sperm’s condition.
Who's a Candidate for Egg Preservation?
Oocyte cryopreservation is also used by:
- Women facing cancer treatment (radiation or chemotherapy), surgery, endometriosis, or who take medicines for some rheumatologic and other diseases that damage or destroy their ovarian function
- Couples undergoing IVF treatment who produce more eggs than needed, and who for ethical reasons don’t want to create and preserve embryos
- Women with premature menopause
Women facing cancer treatment or conditions that reduce ovarian function are good candidates for egg preservation as they have few other options to preserve their fertility. Unfortunately, though, women diagnosed with cancer often don’t have the extra 5 or 6 weeks required for the egg freezing process. First, they must undergo a battery of tests at a fertility clinic and then spend three weeks taking hormones to stimulate a ‘super-ovulation’, during which, a surgeon will surgically remove 4 to 12 mature eggs from her ovary. Thus, women facing cancer treatment should talk to their oncologists and if have them coordinate ‘fast tract’ oocyte preservation procedures, if recommended.
Because egg quality varies across women based on age and other factors, it’s difficult for specialists to predict success rates. Women in their late 30s are less likely to produce as many viable eggs as women under 30.