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Egg freezing on the rise

Wednesday July 10th, 2013

Increasing numbers of women are choosing to freeze their eggs to avoid age-related infertility, experts revealed yesterday.

Dr Dominic Stoop and his team at the hospital of the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, examined the phenomenon. It involves a rapid freezing technique called vitrification, to preserve cells in a glass-like state without creating damaging ice crystals. These eggs, or oocytes, appear to be just as effective in IVF as fresh ones.

The researchers surveyed 140 women with an average age of 37 years, who considered egg banking between 2009 and 2011.

Among the women, 61% had at least one treatment cycle from which eggs were collected and cryopreserved. The remainder either chose not to go ahead or were not successful.

About a third of those who preserved eggs hoped they would not need to use them. Nearly all (96%) said they would do it again and would recommend it, but 71% would have liked to do it at a younger age.

Dr Stoop presented the survey yesterday at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in London, UK. He explained that women who bank oocytes are hoping to beat the biological clock and "buy a little time in their search for a suitable partner". He believes that the procedure "provides important psychological reassurance" for women.

"Our results indicate that most women who have had oocyte cryopreservation have no regrets about it, but do wish they had done so at a younger age," said Dr Stoop. "This makes sense, because the younger the eggs, the better the chance of pregnancy."

Stoop, D. Oocyte banking for anticipated gamete exhaustion (AGE): a follow-up study. Presented on Tuesday 9 July at the ESHRE annual meeting in London, UK.

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Europe | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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