Several categories of women may benefit from freezing their eggs for future use. These include:
- Women undergoing assisted reproduction therapies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), but who do not wish to have embryos frozen. Some individuals have ethical, moral, or religious objections to freezing embryos. With both embryo and egg freezing, a woman must undergo an egg retrieval process. If a couple does not want to freeze embryos, then only a few eggs are fertilized and the rest are discarded. However, freezing eggs before fertilization allows the eggs to be stored, providing her with additional eggs for further attempts at pregnancy if needed. This may allow an individual to undergo fewer (perhaps only one) egg retrieval procedures.
- Women with medical conditions that threaten fertility. Certain medical conditions or the treatments for medical conditions may decrease fertility or even cause irreversible sterility. Some types of cancer, for example, may require chemotherapy or radiation therapy that could make future pregnancies high risk or impossible. The use of egg freezing procedures may provide women with these conditions or facing such treatment with an opportunity to preserve fertility.
- Women concerned about an age-related decline in fertility. Fertility declines as a woman ages. In fact, some data suggests that this decline can begin as early as age twenty-seven. In response to this problem, some women want to freeze and store eggs at an earlier age in anticipation of attempting pregnancy later in life.
- Women who want to simplify donor egg procedures. Donor egg procedures can be simplified by the use of frozen oocytes otherwise known as oocyte cryopreservation. Women who can no longer produce eggs can use eggs from a donor to conceive, but this can require considerable time and expense to coordinate the donor's and recipient's cycles and the fertilization/implantation procedures. The use of frozen donor oocytes could greatly simplify this process for many women since the eggs are available for use whenever the recipient is ready.
To determine if you would be a suitable candidate for egg freezing, feel free to contact us at 317-621-2414. We will be happy to discuss the procedure in detail and refer you to our physician, Dr. David Carnovale, for a consultation. Generally, we suggest that some testing be performed to determine if you are likely to produce a suitable number of eggs for freezing. These tests involve blood tests that measure specific hormone levels to determine your "ovarian reserve," or the likelihood that your ovaries would produce a sufficient number of eggs for freezing.
As a general rule, older women (greater than 38 years of age) are more likely to have diminished ovarian reserve. Based on the outcome of these tests, we will counsel you as to the likelihood of successfully undergoing the process. If your ovarian reserve is low, we may advise you to not undergo the egg retrieval and freezing process. To date, there have been no ongoing pregnancies reported in women over age 38 from frozen eggs. Because each patient is different, however, we have not currently established an age cutoff past which a woman is excluded from undergoing the procedures.