Egg & Embryo Freezing: Banking For The Future
At Monterey Bay IVF we have an elective fertility preservation program that allows women who wish to preserve their ability to have children as they age. This is a decision that should not be taken lightly, yet it is an option we offer to all our patients.
Egg Freezing “Oocyte Cryopreservation”
At our center, egg freezing or “oocyte cryopreservation” is a technique that allows women to freeze and store their eggs until they want to start or expand their families. This concept of putting your “eggs on ice” has received a great deal of publicity recently with many articles written, including this one from Glamour magazine, “Now That Everyone’s Freezing Their Eggs, Should You?”. Egg freezing effectively suspends the reproductive biological clock, giving women between the ages of 30 and 38 the opportunity to extend their fertility by banking their “young” eggs for the future. This process does involve undergoing most of the steps involved in IVF in order to harvest the eggs, in addition there is a charge to freeze and “bank” the eggs.
Embryo Freezing “Embryo Cryopreservation”
Our embryo cryopreservation program was started in 2008. We offer the opportunity to freeze embryos for women, particularly single women, and couples, who for whatever reason, delay childbearing. This is a significant step that allows women to take control of their body’s fertility at a time when their eggs are the most fertile. The process and treatment is similar to the IVF process with the exception of the transfer of embryos.
A woman who is not ready for parenthood and wishes to use her own eggs has the ability to harvest her own eggs through IVF and then fertilize these eggs with a partner or, in the case of women who do not have a partner, anonymous donor sperm from a sperm bank. The embryos from the cycle would be then frozen in our cryotanks awaiting the patient’s decision to transfer them for implantation in her uterus at the appropriate time in the future. We have done this for career couples as well as military couples who are being deployed for long periods of time.
There are several reasons why egg and embryo banking makes sense. It is known that women have over one million eggs at birth and that this supply diminishes at an astonishing rate every year such that by the time they reach the age of 30 they have lost 90%. The loss of oocytes continues and does not stop until the woman reaches menopause, in her late 40’s. Another reason for embryo banking is that the quality of the eggs diminish as well over time (see Age Factor).