Price of oocytes freezing: 1200 EUR.
The package includes taking, freezing and storing egg cells for two years. If the preparations are made at the Elite Clinic, 3-4 consultations and ultrasound examinations would be for the extra cost. The price includes freezing of maximum 14 oocytes (vitrification in 7 straw), with the additional cost of 100 EUR for freezing every extra two oocytes.
Who should consider freezing their oocytes?
The freezing of oocytes can be useful for various reasons for any women who would like to preserve their fertility for the future.
- Women who wants or needs to postpone having a child because of their studies, career or due to other personal reasons.
It is known that fertility decreases with age, hence freezing the oocytes early in the childbearing age gives the best chance to have children in the future. In contrast to the ovaries and oocytes, the uterus does not grow old and is able to carry a pregnancy in the age of 40-50 years. The quality of frozen oocytes does not decrease with time.
- Women who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Freezing the oocytes gives the opportunity to preserve ones eggs before surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Most of these procedures destroy the eggs and cause infertility. Although there are cases where there were viable eggs even after the treatment, chances of fertility preservation depends on the age, type of cancer and treatment plan.
- Women who are against storing the frozen embryos due to their own religion and / or moral grounds.
After the standard IVF procedure, many women / couples have unused embryos. Their unused embryos are frozen and their storing can sometimes be ethically and religiously difficult decision to make – how, whether and when the embryos will be used. In case where the decision to fertilize as many oocytes as required for the specific IVF procedure only and to freeze the rest of the oocytes may be acceptable and a positive alternative solution.
- Women with a family history of early menopause.
Some forms of early menopause are genetically transmitted. The freezing of oocytes will provide an opportunity to maintain the eggs before they are depleted.
How are oocytes frozen?
Unlike sperm and embryos, which are easy to freeze, oocyte is the largest cell of a woman’s body and contains a lot of water, therefore the ice crystals can occur in the cell during the freezing and destroy it.
The oocyte needs to be dried first and the water needs to be replaced with antifreeze before freezing in order to avoid the formation of the ice crystals.
As the oocyte shell gets stronger when frozen, for fertilization after thawing the oocyte, the sperm needs to be injected into the egg with a needle, which is a routine ICSI procedure.
There are 2 ways to freeze the oocytes- slow or quick freezing (vitrification).
What does the process of freezing oocytes contain for a patient?
The patient must have the same hormonal therapy as in case of conventional IVF procedure in order to be able to retrieve the oocytes for freezing. The only difference is that after retrieving the oocytes, they are then frozen for a certain period of time before being thawn, fertilized and growing embryos implanted into the uterus.
Freezing process takes about four to six weeks and is consistent with the initial IVF processes:
- for 2-4 weeks the patient needs to have hormone injections and take birth control pills to temporarily turn off the body’s natural hormones
- for 0-14 days needs to have hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries so that a number of oocytes would mature
- When the oocytes are mature, they are collected with a needle under the guidance of a vaginal ultrasound monitoring and this procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
- Then the oocytes are immediately frozen. When the patient is ready to become pregnant (it may be several years later), then frozen oocytes are thawed, injected with sperm, the oocytes are fertilized and the embryos are implanted into the uterus.
For how long frozen oocytes can be stored?
There is scientific evidence that the long-term preservation of frozen oocytes does not diminish their quality.
According to the Estonian law only specialized artificial insemination organizations can provide the service of freezing and storing the frozen oocytes.
The period of storing the frozen oocytes is not defined by law nor limited in time.
How many oocytes a woman should freeze in order to achieve a pregnancy in the future?
Studies suggest that with women up to age of 38 years the expected results are as following: thawing oocytes probability of 75% and 75% probability of conception.
That means, if there are 10 oocytes frozen, then from those 7 oocytes are expected to survive the thawing procedure from which in turn 5-6 is expected to fertilize and grow into embryos. Usually there are 2 embryos transferred during one procedure, therefore it is recommended to freeze and store 10 oocytes per pregnancy attempts.
Majority of women under the age of 38 years is expected to produce 10 to 15 oocytes in one cycle.
How successful is freezing the oocytes?
Statistically 65% of women who has used their frozen eggs, have given birth to a child.
What to do if a woman is older than 38 years?
The pregnancy success rate with frozen eggs depends on the woman’s age at the time the oocytes were retrieved and frozen, not of the age at which they are later wished to be used.
If a woman is older than 38 years at the time of freezing the oocytes, the probability of her getting pregnant is lower in comparison with younger women.
There is not enough evidence to suggest whether the over 40-years old female oocytes respond in the same way as under 40 years or younger women’s eggs.
Is freezing the oocytes secure?
There are over 10 000 children born of frozen oocytes all over the world.
The largest published study included 900 children born of frozen egg cells and showed no increase in the level of birth complication compared to a general population. Additionally that study also showed no increase in the level of chromosome defects between embryos received from fertilization frozen or fresh oocytes.
Another study from year 2014 showed that pregnancy related complications have not increased due to the freezing of oocytes. All over the world over 300 000 children have been born from frozen oocytes (using mostly the slow freezing technique) without showing any evidence of increased abnormalities.
Nevertheless, it will take years to observe and investigate those children who are born from frozen oocytes for any abnormalities compared to the children conceived in other way.
From literature: Social egg freezing: Who chooses and who uses?