Egg freezing is a relatively new option for women who want to preserve their fertility, either for social or medical reasons. I believe strongly in helping women to have a family before their ovarian function naturally declines, but sometimes delays are unavoidable. Egg freezing is a common procedure for women undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other treatments for serious illnesses and cancer.
Egg freezing may also be recommended if you know you want to have a child in the future, but haven’t had the opportunity in your 20s and 30s which are your most fertile years. You will be able to use your eggs in the future when you have met the right partner or are ready to start your family.
If you decide to go forward with egg freezing, we will collect your eggs after a stimulated IVF cycle, using injections of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) to encourage your follicles to develop mature eggs.
When you are ready to use your eggs, they will be thawed and then fertilised with sperm.
Egg freezing FAQ
Q: What is the maximum age that a woman can freeze her eggs?
A: A woman’s age has an effect on the quality of her eggs when they are frozen and women who freeze their eggs when they are older than their late 30s, have a lower chance of falling pregnant. I would not recommend egg freezing for women over the age of thirty-eight.
Q: How long can eggs be frozen for?
A: Eggs can generally be stored until you want to use them but it is important to remember that your health is also a factor. Your uterus does not decline as your ovarian function does with age, but there is evidence that women over forty-five have lower rates of embryo implantation. Pregnancy at an older age may also take a greater toll on your body.
Embryo freezing may be recommended if you have a partner and need to preserve your fertility. Embryo freezing is used for medical reasons, such as treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Your eggs will be fertilised with your partner’s sperm through IVF treatment, and any resulting embryos will be frozen and stored for the future.
For women with current male partners, embryo freezing is recommended as it tends to have higher success rates than freezing eggs alone. This is because when we only freeze the eggs, they require fertilisation after thawing and don’t usually tolerate the re-freezing process as well as embryos.
Ovarian tissue freezing
Ovarian tissue freezing is another new method of fertility preservation, only used for medical reasons. If this procedure is indicated, a small piece of tissue will be removed from one of your ovaries, and cut into tiny slices and frozen. When you are ready to conceive, the tissue will be grafted back into your pelvis and about nine months later, it will start to produce the hormones needed to develop follicles. We may then be able to achieve pregnancy with ovarian stimulation and IVF or, in some cases, naturally. Ovarian tissue freezing is still in the experimental stages, but a small number of babies have been born as a result.