Becoming Your Own Egg Donor Through Egg Freezing
By David Kreiner, MD
The ability to freeze your eggs is a standard option for our IVF program, much like our fertility preservation and egg donation programs. Because thousands of babies have been born without an increase in defects or abnormalities, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) proclaimed in 2012 that that egg freezing is not considered experimental.
Why should we be interested in egg freezing when we have IVF that is successful and known to be relatively safe after 42 years of experience? The reasons are multiple.
- Medical conditions that affect fertility. A young woman who develops cancer and will have radiation therapy or chemotherapy that may affect her eggs or have her ovaries removed would with egg freezing have an option to preserve her fertility and still have her cancer treated. In the past, the loss of a woman’s future ability to bear children was sometimes more emotionally depressing for her than the cancer itself. The prospect of offering hope to such affected women is spreading throughout the community in part through the efforts of the Lance Armstrong Fund supported group, Fertile Hope. They are attempting to educate not just affected individuals but oncologists and other physicians who come into contact with patients who may be able to take advantage of new IVF technologies to preserve their fertility while undergoing cancer treatment.
- Egg donation. Another great potential use for frozen eggs is in our donor egg program. Currently, our egg donors go through fresh IVF cycles coordinated in time with the recipients so that the eggs are fertilized fresh when they are retrieved. This is highly successful in achieving pregnancies in approximately 80% of donations. However, cycles can be delayed in trying to synchronize patients. If programs can achieve similar success rates using frozen eggs it will allow recipient patients to choose donor eggs much like they select donor sperm today.
- Elective Egg Freezing. Yet, another benefit of the ability to bank frozen eggs is for women who have made the decision to wait to conceive a child and want to be sure that they will have the eggs available for when the time is right. The greatest quantity for egg retrieval is at the peak of fertility, between ages 21-31 and can be completed up to age 37 with the understanding that multiple cycles may be needed to retrieve the recommended number of mature eggs as the ovarian reserve diminishes.
With the newly mandated insurance coverage for IVF and medically-necessary fertility preservation that will take effect in 2020, we are so happy for the many New York residents who will now be able to afford IVF treatment and egg-freezing. Fertility preservation will be covered across the board for those facing cancer and those who need IVF or egg-freezing in order to build their families. We also offer financial counseling to help you navigate your treatment expenses while offering you the ability to reach your reproductive goals.
Needless to say, egg freezing is a great benefit for many women and we are proud to offer our patients the best options and services at our practice.