Egg freezing is the preservation of mature eggs following hormone stimulation to achieve pregnancy at a later time. It is currently offered to women who are interested in preserving their fertility or delaying pregnancy electively, or for those women with a diagnosis of cancer at risk of losing their egg reserve and the potential to have a child due to surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Egg reserve decreases significantly with the increasing reproductive age and any woman in their reproductive years can be considered a candidate for egg freezing, regardless of age.
Egg freezing has been offered very selectively since the initial cases in mid-late 1980s, but its true application to clinical practice has become viable recently. This is due to advanced laboratory techniques with better freezing methods that result in high survival and fertilization rates. Additionally, increased awareness in fertility preservation and access to medical information are also important variables.
Egg freezing can be utilized by any woman who would like to delay childbearing. Hormone treatment for 8-10 days is followed by aspiration of eggs under anesthesia in the office setting and eggs are then frozen for fertility preservation purposes. When the pregnancy is desired at a later time in life, eggs are then thawed and fertilized with sperm and embryos are transferred into the uterus. This process is called in vitro fertilization (IVF), a common type of treatment used for infertility patients.
Eggs can be frozen by two methods today, which are the slow-freeze method and vitrification. Vitrification method is the ultra-rapid freezing technique which seems to be better than slow freezing method based on medical literature. Survival of eggs following freeze-thaw -- and overall pregnancy rates -- are much higher with the vitrification method. Additionally, eggs can be tested for chromosomal abnormalites at the time of the freezing process and only chrom