Posted on: April 27, 2017
From 1970 to 2013, the average age of first-time moms in the U.S. increased by 5 years. The trend to postpone starting a family has had a negative impact on the fertility rate. Elective oocyte cryopreservation is one method for women to increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy at a more advanced age.
Why Opt for Elective Oocyte Cryopreservation?
At birth, you have all of the oocytes, or eggs, that will last your lifetime. Older oocytes can make it more challenging to conceive naturally and increase the risk of miscarriage or birth defects. In order to preserve your fertility, speak with a fertility specialist about elective oocyte cryopreservation, also known as social egg freezing.
Process for Social Egg Freezing
If you decide to have your eggs frozen for fertility preservation, the process mimics an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. Generally, natural cycles result in a single egg maturing and being released. Your reproductive endocrinologist will give you medications that stimulate the ovaries to mature multiple eggs.
In order to retrieve the mature eggs, your fertility specialist will monitor your cycle using blood tests and transvaginal ultrasound. When the oocytes have reached maturity, they are collected through a needle that goes into the ovary through the back of the vaginal wall. This procedure is out-patient and performed under anesthesia. Your fertility specialist can answer any questions you have about the social egg freezing process.
Optimal Age for Elective Oocyte Cryopreservation
If you plan on having a baby prior to age 37, social egg freezing may not be necessary. For women not planning to have children until after 37, studies have shown the highest success rates when oocytes are frozen at prior to age 34. The younger your age at the time of oocyte cryopreservation, the higher the likelihood of a successful pregnancy. Your reproductive endocrinologist can discuss option with social egg freezing based on your individual circumstance.
Medical Conditions and Social Egg Freezing
Certain medical conditions can be detrimental to fertility. If methods like elective oocyte cryopreservation are not sought, treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can damage immature oocytes and cause infertility. In addition, some women suffer from premature ovarian failure, where there ovaries stop releasing eggs regularly before age 40. Social egg freezing can be a way to preserve fertility when faced with medical conditions, such as these.
Success Rates for Elective Oocyte Cryopreservation
Elective oocyte cryopreservation is an emerging procedure, so the sample pool is small. While it does not guarantee a pregnancy or live birth- initial rates are comparable to those seen in fresh oocyte or frozen embryo IVF.