Penn Fertility Care

Egg Freezing

Oocyte Cryopreservation Program (Egg Freezing)

Fertility preservation through oocyte (egg) freezing allows women to store unfertilized eggs for use later in life. Women may cryopreserve eggs if they are facing treatments that may compromise fertility such as chemotherapy for cancer. However, some women are interested in egg freezing to pursue pregnancy at a later time in case they are not ready to have a child during their most fertile years.

Egg freezing is no longer considered experimental by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.  To date, there are over 1000 births worldwide as a result of egg freezing and there does not appear to be an increased risk of pregnancy complications or birth defects in women who conceive using frozen eggs.

Egg freezing technology has advanced over the past decade leading to improved success rates. A rapid cooling process called vitrification appears to be the most effective way to freeze eggs. Most of the information on success rates comes from young women freezing eggs for donation to older women.  These studies show that over 80% of eggs survive the freeze-thaw process, and that approximately 70% of thawed eggs will fertilize with sperm using a process called intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).  Pregnancy rates are over 40% when 1-2 embryos are transferred in young patients. Oocyte quality is best when a woman is in her reproductive prime (18 – 33 years of age) and therefore it is best to have eggs frozen during that time.  Pregnancy rates are lower in women who freeze eggs in their late 30's.

It is important to recognize that freezing eggs does not guarantee a future pregnancy. It is possible that some eggs will not survive, fertilize or lead to a pregnancy. The decision to freeze your eggs can be difficult since you must weigh the potential success, cost and risks of the procedure.

What does the process involve?

The process involves stimulating a woman's ovaries with injectable hormones to produce eggs and then harvesting the eggs under anesthesia. The eggs are then stored for later use.

Penn's Program

We use state of the art vitrification technology to freeze eggs in our program. Our lab director, Matthew VerMilyea, PhD, has extensive experience with egg freezing. We have an active fertility preservation program and offer this technology to women for a variety of indications. We have developed a donor egg bank and have ongoing pregnancies  from women who have frozen their eggs.

Penn Fertility has a staff dedicated to the egg freezing program to ensure that patients are optimally cared for, counseled and supported. We know this is a big decision for many women and we want to make the process as comfortable and easy as possible.