The Facts About the Safety of Egg Freezing
Egg freezing, or oocyte preservation, is the method most often used in the United States for preserving a woman's potential to have children later in life. The procedure has been in use for about 30 years and has seen numerous improvements during this time. The doctors at the Los Angeles Reproductive Center (LARC) in Los Angeles, CA, understand that patients frequently have questions about this practice, particularly regarding the safety of egg freezing.
What Are the Risks?
There are some potential risks involved with egg freezing, so the more that patients know about this procedure, the more confidence they can have in the choices they make. Considerations include:
- Damage to Eggs - One of the most common concerns patients have about the safety of egg freezing is that the freezing and thawing process can damage eggs. Although the chances for pregnancy may be affected by egg freezing, patients can expect that about 90 percent of the eggs will survive the process and about three-quarters of these eggs can be fertilized successfully.
- Places the Child at Higher Risk - Extensive research conducted on hundreds of children resulting from eggs that have been frozen has not supported any undue concern. Rather, it has shown that these children suffer a comparable number of birth defects as those born from eggs and embryos that have not been frozen.
- Increased Miscarriages - Likewise, the risk of miscarriage seems more related to the age of the mothers when the eggs were harvested than whether they were frozen.
- Complications Associated with Egg Retrieval – It is possible that the procedure used for retrieving eggs that will be frozen can cause problems for the mother. These include complications typically resulting from anesthesia, as well as bleeding, infection, or damage to the anatomical structures associated with retrieval.
- Fertility Drug Complications – Prior to freezing, the mother must take fertility drugs to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs for the retrieval process. These drugs are quite safe but can occasionally cause patients to experience certain side effects. These include swollen ovaries, bloating and abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea.
While there are some risks associated with egg freezing, they do not appear to be significant at this time. Frozen eggs are virtually as reliable for in vitro fertilization (IVF)as those that have never been frozen.
Developing Realistic Expectations
Some doctors caution their patients not to allow the fact that they have frozen their eggs for future use to give them unwarranted expectations. This process provides an avenue for future success but, like any other aspect of IVF, does not guarantee pregnancy.
That said, because of the apparent safety and effectiveness of this technique, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine declared in 2012 that egg freezing is no longer an experimental procedure. However, they also caution that, "while short-term data appear reassuring, long-term data on developmental outcomes and safety data in diverse (older) populations are lacking."
Learn More about Preserving Your Fertility
To learn more about the pros and cons of egg freezing, as well as other issues related to fertility, patients are encouraged to contact the experts at the Los Angeles Reproductive Center (LARC). They have four convenient locations to serve patients' needs. Contact the practice online to learn more.