Frozen eggs are comparable to fresh eggs for vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) report, “Mature Oocyte Cryopreservation.” Research has shown that egg freezing techniques now produce pregnancy rates comparable to IVF cycles with fresh eggs, and the society is lifting the “experimental” label from the technique.
The decision comes after reviewing nearly 1,000 pieces of research and finding that randomized controlled trials “provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate acceptable success rates in young, highly selected populations,” with the survival rate of cryopreserved eggs approaching 90% to 95%. Most of the women in the studies surveyed were under 35, though some included women up to age 41.
Freezing eggs can be beneficial for women at risk of losing their fertility to diseases like cancer, patients with medical indications such as Turner Syndrome, couples using a surrogate, and couples who are unable or unwilling to freeze embryos. Removing the “experimental” classification may also allow more women with medical indications for cryopreservation get the procedure covered by health insurance.
But ASRM cautions that the procedure should not be marketed as an option for elective delay of childbearing, as the success rates with oocyte cryopreservation decline with maternal age just as the success rate using fresh oocytes does.
“There is an inherent conflict between the desire for freezing eggs and the need for freezing eggs,” said said Eric Widra, MD, Chair of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Practice Committee. “Very young women in their 20s are unlikely to have infertility. For older patients, freezing eggs in their late 30s or early 40s may provide a false sense of security.”
“Mature oocyte cryopreservation: a guideline,” Fertil Steril. 2012 Oct 22. pii: S0015-0282(12)02247-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.09.028. [Epub ahead of print]