Offering Women the Ability to Preserve Their Fertility
University Hospitals Fertility Center offers elective egg freezing to eligible women who desire to store their eggs for future use.
Age and Fertility
A women’s fertility potential is dependent on the number of eggs in her ovaries. This number declines with age; women are most fertile in their 20s and early 30s, and fertility begins to decline after the mid-30s.
New technology has allowed women to freeze their eggs at a younger age for later use. This allows women to potentially preserve their fertility if they are not ready to start a family during their years of peak fertility.
Egg freezing is a relatively new procedure. It has been considered non-experimental by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine since 2012. While egg freezing does not guarantee a successful pregnancy, it can provide options for women who are interested in delaying conception.
Egg freezing begins with a physician consultation. Several tests, including ultrasound and blood work, will be ordered.
Once testing is complete, the women meets with a nurse to review medications and learn about the retrieval process.
The cycle begins with ovarian stimulation, which consists of 10 to 12 days of fertility injections. During the stimulation, the patient gives herself hormone medications by injection to encourage multiple egg development. The response to the medications is carefully monitored by vaginal ultrasounds and blood tests. When the ultrasounds and blood test indicate the eggs are ready, a final injection is given to prepare the donor for egg retrieval.
Egg retrievals are done at the UH Fertility Center’s Risman Pavilion office. The egg retrieval is done through the vagina by using ultrasound to guide a thin needle into the ovaries. The eggs are obtained by withdrawing the eggs from each of the follicles. The patient will be given light sedation for the retrieval. We ask that the patient rest for one hour, after which she can go home.
After the retrieval, the eggs are carefully examined in our embryology lab. Eggs are evaluated for maturity, and are frozen using a technique called vitrification, that rapidly freezes the eggs to prevent ice-crystal formation. Eggs are stored in liquid nitrogen and can be frozen for years until ready for use.
Once the patient returns to use the frozen eggs, the eggs are thawed and fertilized with sperm (patient’s partner or selected donor sperm) using a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected into each egg. Fertilized eggs, called embryos, are allowed to grow in the lab for three to five days. One to two embryos are then transferred to the uterus. Extra embryos can be frozen for later use.
For more information about egg freezing, or to see if egg freezing is right for you, please contact the UH Fertility Center to schedule a consult with one of our physicians by calling 216-285-5028.