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Egg Freezing

Women are increasingly delaying motherhood for a variety of reasons. Most women are aware that their fertility declines with age; particularly from their mid to late thirties. This loss of reproductive capacity is largely due to an inevitable decline in the egg quality. Consequently there has been a great deal of interest in egg freezing as a means of preserving fertility.

It is important to emphasise that natural conception is best for potentially fertile women as any assisted reproductive technology (ART) technique can carry an element of risk and overall success rates may be lower than natural conception. All ART involve medical procedures and should only be used when necessary, and after proper consideration of the risks and benefits.

The success of egg freezing is based on the number and quality of the eggs retrieved and that in turn is heavily dependent on the women’s age. The storage of frozen eggs by presumably fertile women does not guarantee a subsequent pregnancy, irrespective of egg number.

Social egg freezing at Repromed is restricted to women who are 39 years old and under, where embryo's from frozen eggs can be created up until the woman’s 52nd birthday. 


What does Egg freezing Involve?

A woman will undergone controlled ovarian hyper-stimulation to increase the number of follicles growing on the ovaries, this will maximise the number of eggs available for retrieval. Every woman is different and responds differently to treatment so the number and quality of eggs harvested will vary. Once the eggs have been collected the support cells around the eggs are removed. At this time the maturity of the eggs are determined. Only mature eggs are suitable for freezing therefore not all the eggs retrieved may be frozen. Mature eggs are frozen by first exposing them to a cryo-protective solution and then freezing very rapidly using a process called vitrification.

Each egg is individually frozen and stored. Similar to freezing embryos, once the eggs are frozen they are stable for an indefinite period.

Thawing involves the quick warming of the egg to 37oC and the removal of the cryoprotective solution. After a short period of recovery, the eggs are then suitable for insemination by injecting a single sperm into the egg.  


How successful is Egg Freezing?

Recent international research has indicated that, on a per thawed oocyte basis, the use of frozen eggs has the potential to give similar results as using freshly collected eggs. Published results suggest a single pregnancy may be produced on average from about 10 -15 oocytes. The number and quality of eggs collected and the overall success rate for the procedure depends on the woman’s age, the reason for the treatment and other factors. There are instances where no eggs may be collected or suitable for freezing despite everyone’s best efforts.