Egg freezing, a technique originally developed to protect the fertility of women undergoing various medical procedures which could damage their ovaries (such as cancer treatment), is now increasingly used by women wishing to preserve their fertility for a range of other reasons. Our own research with the University of Copenhagen has shown that an increasing number of women wish to plan having their children later in life, and that they see egg freezing as a key part of their planning.
For women who know that they are likely to wish to conceive after 40, we would recommend egg freezing at younger ages as an excellent option to improve their chances of successful conception.
Our laboratories are the most experienced in the UK, with a decade of experience in vitrification technology. Although there are still many unknowns with regards to egg freezing, especially because many of the women, who have frozen their eggs are yet to come back to use them for conception, we know that our patients often feel very satisfied about egg freezing and we would be happy to advise you about whether we feel this would be a good option for you.
Egg freezing involves the stimulation of the ovaries with hormones to produce an optimum number of eggs which are collected under sedation (just as in a usual IVF cycle). However, instead of being fertilized, mature eggs are instantly frozen in the laboratory using the vitrification method, and can then be stored for later use. If a woman wants to try to conceive at a later date, the frozen eggs will be thawed, combined with sperm in a laboratory and a resulting embryo will be transferred to the uterus.
Since we know that a woman’s fertility declines with age, egg freezing enables a woman to attempt conception at later ages with younger, healthier eggs. It also allows women, who might be anxious about reaching the end of their reproductive years without having found the right partner to have a family with, to buy themselves some extra time by preserving their current fertility.
Technologically speaking, once the eggs are frozen, they are in a glass like state and will remain in the condition they were frozen in without any of the deteriorating effects of aging. Legally speaking, there is a 10-year limit for the storage of frozen eggs in the UK.
Find out more about egg freezing