Until recently, few practices have had the experience or capability to offer egg freezing. Santa Monica Fertility in the Los Angeles area, however, is at the vanguard of egg freezing technology. Dr. Jain conducted the first prospective trial in the field for which he was awarded the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society’s 2006 top research prize. He created the USC egg freezing program during his tenure there, and he now brings that expertise to our patients in Los Angeles and all over the world at SMF.
Video Transcript →
I have been involved in egg freezing for over a decade and I have seen its popularity rise as more and more women are seeking to complete their professional and personal goals before having a family. Also the technology has really improved this method called vitrification or rapid freeze has eclipsed the older method called slow freeze and now offers us birth rates from frozen eggs that are comparable to fresh eggs.In our center we have birth rates of forty-five percent per embryo transfer in women in their thirties which is almost identical to the rate we see with fresh never frozen eggs in the same age group. So women today really do have a viable way to preserve their fertility for the future. And that way she can enjoy the pregnancy chances based on the age at which we froze the eggs.
So the way egg freezing works is first for the woman to undergo ovarian stimulation, so she takes hormonal injections to recruit multiple egg follicles. We then take her to the operating room and retrieve the eggs from the egg follicles under anesthesia of course, it’s painless. The eggs are then frozen, eggs don’t change with time so the eggs can be frozen for years when she is ready to utilize her eggs, they are thawed usually a batch of six eggs, sperm is introduced into the eggs at that point to create embryos and then the best embryos are selected and transferred to the woman’s uterus for pregnancy.
The best age for women to consider egg freezing is in her thirties, because she still has viable eggs at that point. Women in their forties have less viable eggs and there is actually not as much data on egg freezing in that age group although we do have a couple of women who have given birth from frozen eggs, when they were in their forties including the oldest egg freezer in the world.
Froze her eggs at forty three and gave birth at forty seven, so very proud of that. But those are anecdotal examples. Women in their twenties have many years of good fertility so to undergo an expensive invasive procedure may not make sense for women in their twenties.
I am often asked if egg freezing is safe, we believe its safe – unfortunately there have only been about ten thousand births from frozen eggs in the whole world. This in contrast to three hundred thousand births from frozen embryos and seven million births from IVF. So far there has not been any increase in abnormalities in children born from frozen eggs and if take the very good history of frozen embryos demonstrating no increase in birth defects or cognitive impairment I think we can state that egg freezing is likely to be just as safe.
The only other way a woman can preserve her fertility is to freeze embryos, that of course is a fertilized egg which means we need sperm. For lot of my patients who are single that’s not what they are seeking because that of course names the father of that embryo. Embryo freezing however has been around for a long time thirty years it is safe, it is effective, in fact we are no recovering almost a hundred percent of frozen embryos from deep freeze. So it’s a really good choice. Compared to egg freezing it’s more reliable because we are not sure if we will get all eggs back once frozen we are not sure how they will work, once fertilized.
When you are doing your research about an egg freezing center and the doctor, you need to make sure that that doctor as babies from frozen eggs of women your age the work is published and that the center has expertise in egg freezing. Unfortunately less than five percent of centers in United States have demonstrated published work showing that they can create babies from frozen eggs. Our center fortunately is in the five percent group. I have been freezing eggs for over a decade now and we are starting to see some of the secondary data points in egg freezing, some of the outcomes of egg freezing.
One thing I have observed is that ninety five percent of the women I freeze eggs on have not come back to use their eggs. So we did a study a couple of years ago to ask these patients you know what’s up! We found that fifteen percent of patients who have frozen their eggs have a baby, the remaining eighty five percent are split into two camps, one sixty five percent of the women still want a baby and are in different points in finding a partner, so they actually want a family not just the baby. The other third have decided maybe not to use their eggs but I have to say overall most women are positive about their experience or happy they froze their eggs to give themselves that option even if they didn’t use the eggs or may not use the eggs in the future.
Egg freezing is a breakthrough technology that allows women to freeze and store their eggs until a pregnancy is desired. At that time, the eggs are thawed, fertilized and transferred to the uterus as embryos.
Many women today are postponing childbearing because they are focused on a career, are returning to school, or because they simply haven’t met the right person. For these women, egg freezing is revolutionary, not just in its technology, but in the life choices it allows them to make.
Over 50,000 reproductive-aged women are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments typically lead to infertility by destroying the eggs. While options vary depending on age, type of cancer and cancer-treatment plan, egg freezing can provide these women the opportunity to preserve their fertility.
And finally, egg freezing can be useful for individuals with religious or moral objections to storing frozen embryos that remain following a routine In Vitro Fertilization cycle.
It takes approximately four to six weeks to complete the egg freezing cycle, which follows the same protocol as IVF. This includes birth control pills and self-administered hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries. Eggs are retrieved and are frozen to a final temperature of -196ºC immediately following retrieval. When embryo transfer is desired, the eggs are thawed, injected with a single sperm to achieve fertilization, and transferred to the uterus as embryos.
We recommend that at least ten eggs be stored for each pregnancy attempt. For women under thirty-eight years of age, we normally harvest ten to twenty eggs per cycle. Based on our success with embryo freezing, we believe that long-term storage of frozen eggs is possible.
Our most recent frozen egg pregnancy rates from frozen eggs are among the highest in the country – over 40% with the vitrification method. This figure is well above the national average for frozen embryos. Furthermore, we anticipate continued success and improvement in these rates with our dedication to ongoing research in the field.
To date, approximately 2000 babies have been born worldwide from frozen eggs. Among these births, the rate of birth defects and chromosomal defects has been no higher than that which we see in the general population.
The cost of egg freezing is approximately $15,215. This fee includes all testing, monitoring and the first year of storage. Each additional year is billed at a rate of $650. There are additional costs for medications which vary by pharmacy. The egg thaw, fertilization and embryo transfer procedure total approximately $8,000. Discounts are offered for additional cycles.
See all our pricing policies here.
» For further information, please visit the Egg Freezing Center.