Human egg freezing is a process in which a woman’s eggs are extracted, frozen and stored in the laboratory. The aim is to thaw these eggs for use (fertilization) whenever she is ready to conceive.
The first successful pregnancy resulted from fertilization using frozen egg was report in 1986. With the advancing medical technology, the reported pregnancy rate is comparable to transfer of fresh or frozen embryos. (Fert Steril 2005,2009). The ASRM endorsed this technology for clinical application after reviewing its efficacy and safety in 2012.
The main medical use is in women undergoing cancer treatment. The use of chemotherapy or radiotherapy has a detrimental effect to the ovaries, which usually led to destruction of eggs (follicles) and causes premature ovarian failure. This made the woman sterile and unable to conceive when she recovers from treatment. The advent of ‘egg freezing’ provides opportunities for these women. However, the process of freezing the egg must be done prior to commencement of cancer treatment.
The other reason for egg freezing include for couple who do not subscribe to embryo freezing during IVF treatment, due to either religious or ethical reasons . While undergoing an IVF treatment may result in excess embryo, some couples have difficulty to decide on what to do with the extra, unused embryos. By freezing the excess eggs during IVF treatment, avoids having to endure this complex choices.
The current popular application of this technology, though not medically recommended, is for childbearing postponement. In this modern day, more women spend their best reproductive period in advancing and consolidating their career. This results in more women trying to conceive their first pregnancy at a later age. However, the woman’s fertility potential is reduced with aging, even with IVF treatment. The reason is poorer egg quality is associated with increasing age (35 years or more). By banking (freezing) their eggs earlier (at a younger age) and use them when they are ready (older), provides a chance of a starting a family.
Jain J Fertility Sterility 2005
Grifo Fertility Sterility 2009