A common request now is for women to freeze their eggs. We have seen the requests for egg freezing increase dramatically over the past five years. The reason for this is that the technology now exists to freeze eggs effectively, where it did not exist before. In egg freezing, a woman undergoes in vitro fertilization with the use of specialized medications that stimulate the ovaries to release more eggs.
Those eggs are extracted under anesthesia from the ovaries, and the eggs are then placed in a special media where they're evaluated by the embryologist. The process of stimulation and extraction of eggs takes approximately two weeks. Once the eggs are extracted, they are placed into liquid nitrogen within certain special vials that are protected against the very cold temperatures.
The eggs are frozen at a very low temperature so that they have no biological activity. Should the woman desire to use these eggs later in life, she would then go back to the reproductive endocrinologist and undergo a treatment with hormones to prepare her uterus to receive the fertilized eggs. At that time she would of course need the sperm donor, either her partner or a donor sample from a cryobank.
The sperm would be thawed, or produced fresh by her partner, the eggs would be thawed and fertilization would be conducted in a laboratory. Once the fertilized egg occurs and an embryo is formed, the embryo can be transferred back into the uterus. Egg freezing is available to women who need to delay child bearing to a later age, or who are in a situation at this time where they have no male partner.
It is also offered to women who need to undergo chemotherapy for rheumatologic diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome or Bahcet's syndrome. Also, it is offered to women who need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment for certain types of malignancies. So egg freezing is available to women for medical reasons as well as social reasons.
It could be very effective. Like other forms of in vitro fertilization, it's most effective when done at younger ages, typically under the age of 35. Speak to your physician about the possibility of egg freezing in your life.