When should you consider egg freezing?
Storing your eggs may enable you to use them for treatment in the future. There are many reasons why you may consider doing this:
- If you are young (less than 36 years of age) and not in a relationship conducive to childbearing
- If you have something you need to get done before children, such as career or school
- If you want to get pregnant at a later age and minimize the risk of miscarriage or of having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality
- If you must use a medical treatment that is harmful to a developing baby, such as chemotherapy or radiation
- If you have a medical condition with significantly fewer healthy eggs, such as premature ovarian failure, or one that may require surgery to remove all or part of your reproductive organs, such as endometriosis or cancer
- If you wish to donate your eggs
- If you are about to undergo a sex change operation
What is vitrification?
Your eggs contain mostly water. With the classic method of egg freezing, ice crystals could form inside the egg causing damage to the genetic material. Vitrification is a relatively new method of ultra-rapid cooling technique with no ice crystal formation at all. During vitrification, the eggs are cooled off by thousands of degrees per minute. The eggs can then be stored in special cryogenic freezers, made for this purpose. The eggs are held in tiny straws. The first live birth achieved with vitrified oocytes resulted from a donated egg in 1999 and, since October 2012, the technique is no longer be considered “experimental,” according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine,
How does egg survival compare between vitrification and conventional methods?
In Japan, where vitrification techniques were developed, scientists have shown that 90%-95% of eggs can survive the new freezing method compared with 50%-60% using conventional methods. Vitrification has shown pregnancy rates of 30%-40%, which is comparable to the use of fresh eggs.
The procedures before, during, and after vitrification
The procedures for putting your fertility on ice are very similar to a standard IVF cycle. It involves a course of daily fertility drug injections for approximately two weeks followed by an operation to remove the eggs. The eggs are then carefully vitrified and put into store in liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees C. They can be kept under these conditions without deteriorating for an indeterminate length of time.
When you decide that it is time to use these eggs, they will be thawed at the appropriate time of your menstrual cycle, fertilized using ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) the injection of a single sperm into the egg, and transferred to your womb a couple of days later.
How much does vitrification cost?
The prices vary depending on where you have the procedure and your personal and medical circumstances. Usually, vitrification is part of a comprehensive package that includes management, monitoring, and storage of your eggs. The price range is between $5,000 and 10,000 for one cycle and one year of storage.
Is vitrification used to collect other tissues?
Yes. Vitrification is used to store embryos, sperm, and ovarian tissue.