Set your own biological clock
As women, we lead rich and demanding lives – obtaining advanced degrees, pursuing successful careers, and taking better care of ourselves. We have an astounding number of opportunities and as a result, many of us choose to start our families later than our mothers and grandmothers.
But in waiting longer to have children, many women face the real challenge of having successful, healthy pregnancies later in life. While we have made great strides in other areas, our fertility is still limited by basic biology – the ‘biological clock’ generally stops ticking in our late 30’s or early 40’s. Our opportunities are endless, but our egg supply and quality are not.
Freezing eggs offers women planning to have children after the age of 35 the opportunity to effectively slow down their biological clocks. Egg freezing gives women the unprecedented chance to store their eggs during their reproductive prime for use when they wish to start or expand their families.
Importance of the egg
When it comes to issues of fertility, it is the age of the egg, not the age of the woman that matters most.
At birth, all females have about 1 million eggs. By puberty, a woman’s egg reserve has declined by 50% and each month thereafter, she will lose an additional 750 eggs. Beginning in a woman’s 20’s, the eggs not only begin to diminish in quantity, but also in quality. Significant deterioration occurs after the age of 35. The end result is that as a woman ages, it becomes increasingly difficult, and eventually impossible for her to conceive a healthy baby naturally due to the age of her eggs.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a woman over the age of 40 has only a 5 percent chance or less of becoming pregnant naturally in any one month. Furthermore, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in newborns increases with the age of the woman’s egg, growing to 1 in 66 at age 40 versus 1 in 385 at age 30. The risk of Down Syndrome in particular increases from 1 in 1,000 at age 20, to 1 in 100 at age 40 according to the CDC.
There is good news. Research has found that when women use eggs donated to them by younger women, they can achieve the same pregnancy success rates as women in their 20’s. Egg freezing provides a way for women to be their own donors. Women can have their eggs retrieved at a younger age and preserve them using cryopreservation technology. When a woman is ready to get pregnant, she has her younger eggs available to increase her chances of success.
The Promise of Frozen Eggs
After decades of trial and error, egg freezing has finally come of age. In its biggest milestone yet, in 2012 the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recognized the improved success rates and safety of this fertility preservation technology by removing the experimental label. The doctors’ organization reviewed more than a thousand studies and acknowledged that younger women who underwent in-vitro fertilization using frozen eggs had a similar chance of success as with fresh eggs. The research also showed that babies born from frozen eggs did not face any increased risk of birth defects than those in the general population.
Although scientists have long been able to freeze sperm and embryos (fertilized eggs), eggs historically remained a challenge. Because eggs are the biggest cells in the body and contain mostly water, earlier freezing attempts created destructive ice crystals. But the most recent advances in culture solutions and freezing techniques prevent the crystals from forming, resulting in more than 85 percent of eggs surviving freezing and thawing.
The second challenge was to find a way to fertilize the egg, since the freezing process hardens the outer membrane and makes it difficult for sperm to burrow inside. However, embryologists figured out how to overcome this hurdle by injecting a single sperm directly into the egg in a technique known as intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection.
Experience & Innovation
Given the new enthusiasm about these advances, many fertility doctors across the country have started offering egg freezing. Yet because women who freeze their eggs often don’t return to thaw them until years later, many doctors lack critical experience making babies from them.
Extend Fertility has partnered with leading centers with established programs and solid track records of births from frozen eggs. Their staff have been carefully trained and monitored by recognized experts in the field of cryopreservation.
Our Success Rates
Our partner clinics boast some of the most impressive success rates in the field. Of nearly 2,000 freezing and thawing cycles, 50% of the women became pregnant and about 700 babies conceived from frozen eggs have been born to date (with 450 more on the way). Although the majority of these births involved frozen eggs donated from younger women to older patients, our doctors are seeing excellent results with eggs that were frozen by women in their mid to late-30s – even in their early 40s. Yet women are strongly encouraged to freeze their eggs before age 35 to achieve the best outcomes. At Extend Fertility affiliated centers, pregnancy rates with frozen eggs are similar to IVF pregnancy rates using fresh eggs and directly correlated to the age of the woman at time of freezing.
Current baby count so far: 693
# egg freezing cycles (medical, elective, or egg donor) where both the freeze and thaw have been completed: 1979
Aggregate results of these complete cycles:
# of clinical pregnancies: 999
# live born children: 693
# ongoing: 449
% post thaw survival rate: 86.5
% post thaw fertilization rate 77.5
Who Is a Good Candidate
Egg freezing may be the right solution for you.
Women Age 18-40
Women who anticipate having children after the age of 35 and want the opportunity to preserve their future fertility.
Qualified candidate: woman aged 18-40 in good reproductive health.
Women with cancer
Women about to undergo medical procedures, such as cancer therapies, that could put their reproductive futures at risk.
Qualified candidate: woman aged 18-40 whose oncologist recommends egg freezing as the best option for preserving their fertility.
Women with endometriosis, premature ovarian failure, or early menopause
Women with a family history of endometriosis, premature ovarian failure, or early menopause.
Qualified candidate: woman aged 18-40 whose reproductive health allows for fertility preservation.