If you want to freeze your eggs, sperm or embryos for a future pregnancy, understanding the process can help ease your mind and direct your decisions. Here are the basics.
After years of study, scientists now have developed highly reliable methods for freezing a woman’s eggs, a process known as oocyte cryopreservation. You may choose to preserve your eggs for various reasons, including concerns about diminishing fertility with age, concerns about medical treatment that might significantly reduce the number of viable eggs and a strong desire to give birth to a biologically related child sometime in the future. Studies show that the freezing and warming of eggs results in pregnancy rates similar to fresh eggs and shows no increase in chromosomal abnormalities, birth defects or developmental deficits.
If you are interested in cryopreserving your eggs, you first must meet with your doctor or a designated fertility staff member to discuss the procedure, including any concerns and costs. You then take fertility drugs to promote follicle development and maturation and undergo the same harvesting of eggs used during in vitro fertilization. Instead of having the eggs fertilized and implanted, the unfertilized eggs are frozen for future use. Sutter Health uses a state-of-the-art freezing technique called vitrification that better protects the eggs from harm and results in higher pregnancy rates.
Cryopreservation of embryos often takes place if a couple has more embryos than they need for an in vitro fertilization transfer. The embryos can be safely frozen for use for subsequent attempts at pregnancy. Frozen embryos have a thaw survival rate of about 95 percent and a pregnancy rate similar to fresh embryos. The process has no known impact on the rate of miscarriages or birth defects.
Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients
Some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can impact your fertility or even cause sterilization. We offer “fast track” fertility preservation services for both women and men entering cancer treatment. This can involve egg, sperm or embryo cryopreservation, depending on your need. Speak to your doctor as soon as possible to determine your options.
Sperm can be cryopreserved and stored for future in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination procedures. All sperm collections are frozen immediately. Donor sperm must remain quarantined for six months to make sure the donor does not carry any viral disease. Some sperm do not survive cryopreservation and thawing. Sometimes multiple collections are recommended to increase success rates.
Health and Wellness
Egg Freezing Considerations
Modern science has made it possible to freeze your eggs for future use, but it’s important to consider all the pros and cons before making that decision. Learn what to expect as well as important questions to ask your doctor.