In our minds, the concepts of fertility and eggs go hand-in-hand -- especially this time of year. Now, there's some very good news for those who want to either preserve their fertility for the future or otherwise have a Plan B in the freezer for subsequent treatment cycles.
Research performed in the nation of Cyprus has concluded that frozen donor eggs are just as likely as fresh to have a pregnant outcome.
Freezing sperm for later use is almost fool-proof, it's been done for so many years. Likewise, freezing embryos has become a far smoother process that ends in success more often than not. Freezing eggs, on the other hand, has been a challenge.
I've spoken often about the use of egg cryopreservation technology -- the tricky nature of the egg cell that makes the freeze-thaw processes so tenuous, and the hope that comes with improvements on the technique. In 2008, I was interviewed by Houston Business Journal about the intersection of related advanced reproductive technology and society. The ASRM has long been pleased to hear of frozen eggs being used for women prior to cancer treatment, but they've been slow to agree on the technique's use for women who aren't preserving fertility in the face of life-threatening illness.
Now, a new subset of patients are given hope by frozen eggs -- women who must use a donor's eggs to conceive a child.
Arriving at "Honey, I think we need to use donor egg to get pregnant" comes only after some serious thought about very tough topics. Women who've gone through menopause prematurely in life -- a huge psychological burden itself -- and older women who've deferred pregnancy find themselves giving thought to what most people don't have to: "I can either have a child who isn't genetically related to me, or not at all."
Using donor egg to get pregnant also adds to the financial burden of these patients, since they are required to meet the donor's compensation needs.
Among other benefits, documentation of frozen donor egg success increases the possibility of egg banks, similar to long-standing sperm banks, which might then make the entire process cost less. More directly for patients, knowing that subsequent cycles using their donor's frozen eggs can be just as likely to help them get pregnant as that first fresh cycle -- that's a huge load of stress taken from the patients' shoulders.
Any bit of hope we can offer to donor egg recipients is a good thing in my book. The news that frozen donor eggs can be just as successful in rendering a pregnancy is very good.