American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) announced today that there is now enough medical evidence to suggest that egg freezing is no longer an experimental technique for fertility preservation. The change in the labeling of egg freezing will most likely expand this option to more women considering fertility preservation.
Egg freezing has been around since late 1980s, but the techniques have not been perfected until mid-2000s. The success rates following egg freezing were low and ranged from 5-30% due to poor egg freezing and thawing techniques and lack of understanding of the metabolic changes in the egg, and therefore limited number of cases were published in the literature. Based on most recent studies including ours (http://www.laivfclinic.com/eggfreezing), success rates have significantly improved and healthy children have been born throughout the world. The risk of birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities has been reported to be similar in children born from frozen eggs compared to the general population.
We now have sufficient evidence to suggest that the success rates following egg freezing are comparable to fresh collected and fertilized eggs based on randomized clinical trials. Once mature eggs are obtained following controlled ovarian stimulation, they can be frozen for years until pregnancy is desired. At that time, eggs are thawed and fertilized with sperm and embryos are transferred into the uterus. The success rates are approximately 50% per attempt and if additional embryos are created, they can be frozen for later use as well.
A good option to consider at the time of egg freezing is testing of eggs to determine if they are healthy or not. A technique called polar body biopsy allows us to test the egg for chromosomal abnormalities at the time of freezing. Once healthy eggs are identified, they are stored for the long term and abnormal ones are discarded. This way, one can not only preserve fertility and stop the biological clock, but also get reassurance about the health of the eggs as well. It is important to know that the genetic tests are not 100% accurate when it comes to testing of eggs or embryos, but they do provide valuable information with good efficacy overall.
Although egg freezing is no longer considered an experimental approach, it should not be recommended to all women routinely for the purpose of fertility preservation. All other available options should be discussed with associated risks and potential benefits. In addition to freezing eggs, fertility preservation also encompasses maintaining a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet and an exercise program along with risk reduction of potential exposures that would expedite the loss of healthy eggs at a young age.