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Egg Freezing

Overview of Egg Freezing at North Cyprus IVF Centre

Egg freezing is a relatively new concept in IVF procedures. Even though tissue and cell freezing have been in practice for some time, due to the fragile nature of human oocytes (eggs), freezing eggs have traditionally had much lower success rates compared to sperm or embryo freezing. The earlier method of freezing human gametes and embryos was known as slow freezing. With the slow freezing method, eggs/sperm cells or embryos would be slowly cooled down to low temperatures and would then be transferred into liquid nitrogen for long term preservation. However, even though sperm cells and embryos would have a very high survival rate with this method, survival of oocytes (eggs) with this method has been very low. Many scientists even concluded at the beginning of this century that egg freezing is not a successful procedure and should not be used. The problem with the slow freezing method was that, during the cooling process, ice crystals would form on the eggs, and these ice crystals would cause lethal damage, causing the egg to die.

Egg freezing is a relatively new concept in IVF procedures. Even though tissue and cell freezing have been in practice for some time, due to the fragile nature of human oocytes (eggs), freezing eggs have traditionally had much lower success rates compared to sperm or embryo freezing.

The earlier method of freezing human gametes and embryos was known as slow freezing. With the slow freezing method, eggs/sperm cells or embryos would be slowly cooled down to low temperatures and would then be transferred into liquid nitrogen for long term preservation. However, even though sperm cells and embryos would have a very high survival rate with this method, survival of oocytes (eggs) with this method has been very low. Many scientists even concluded at the beginning of this century that egg freezing is not a successful procedure and should not be used. The problem with the slow freezing method was that, during the cooling process, ice crystals would form on the eggs, and these ice crystals would cause lethal damage, causing the egg to die.

A newer method of vitrification became available in early 2000s, raising hopes about human oocyte freezing. This new method is sometimes referred to as ultra-rapid freezing. With this new technology and newly invented solutions, egg freezing has become as successful as embryo and sperm freezing techniques.

North Cyprus IVF Center has been offering oocyte (egg) freezing via vitrification method since 2007. With constant improvements in culture media and techniques used in vitrification, we are now offering more than 90% survival rate of vitrified oocytes. This means that 9 out of 10 eggs frozen will survive this process and will carry the potential of fertilizing into a viable embryo.

Today, more and more women are climbing the job ladder which can mean that forming a family or planning a baby would often be delayed. This delay may not always be favored by the ticking biological clock. With career planning, more and more women lose their fertility before they become ready to plan their family. In such a case, a woman is faced with a difficult decision. She either accepts not having her biological children, or drops out of the labor market to experience motherhood. However, thanks to vitrification, there is now a third option.

Who is a suitable candidate for Egg Freezing?
Women who are not yet ready to have a child due to personal reasons but would like to have the opportunity at a future date,
Women who are about to undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy,
Women who are at the risk of premature ovarian failure as evidenced by fertility assessment or family history,

are all ideal candidates for the egg freezing procedure. The steps involved in egg freezing are very similar to the steps involved in standard IVF treatments. The difference is, retrieved eggs are not fertilized and they are not transferred into the patient’s uterus. Rather, the eggs are preserved for future use by the patient when she is ready to plan her family.

Before proceeding with this type of treatment, it will be important to undergo certain tests and screening. These tests allow us to design an optimal treatment protocol in order to maximize the count and quality of the eggs to be collected from the ovaries. Normally, in a given menstrual cycle, each woman produces a single egg, and this single egg may or may not have the fertilization potential. By supplementing you with additional medication, we make sure that your ovaries produce multiple good quality eggs so that we can collect as many eggs as possible and freeze them for you to use at a future pregnancy. While the aim is collecting as many eggs as possible, we do not want to risk ovarian hyperstimulation, which is a condition with unpleasant side effects. Therefore, optimizing your treatment protocol to your specific hormone levels and many other parameters is very important.

Tests required before planning an egg freezing cycle are as follows:
– On day 2 or 3 of your menstrual period, we will ask that you have a pelvic ultrasound scan for antral follicle tracking.
– On the very same day, we will also ask for FSH, LH, Estradiol, Prolactin and AMH hormone testing to make an assessment of your ovarian function so that we can identify the right course of medication to be used. Once we have this information along with a detailed medical history form, we will be able to design your treatment protocol so that we can successfully obtain a good count and quality of eggs, which will be your future child(ren)! For more information on infertility testing and what your results mean, please see our Infertility Testing section.

How much does Egg Freezing Cost?
The baseline cost of egg freezing is 2,500 Euros. This fee includes your medical consultations at our IVF unit, your medical procedures and freezing procedures. However, depending on the number of eggs retrieved, and depending on how many eggs you would like to have frozen in each straw, the cost will differ. For instance, if we are able to retrieve a total of 8 eggs and you would like to have all of these eggs frozen in the same straw, then the cost of treatment would remain 2,500. However, if you would like each egg to be frozen separately in separate straws, then each additional straw will cost 300 Euros. When eggs are frozen together, they are also warmed (thawed) together, meaning, they will need to be used all at once since re-freezing them will not produce a succefful outcome. If you intend to use your frozen eggs in multiple pregnancies (if you wish to have more than one child with your eggs), we recommend freezing eggs in sets of 2 or 3, giving you a higher amount of flexibility in the future on how to use them. Freezing eggs in sets of 1 egg per straw is also not a very good idea since not all the eggs will survive the thaw process and not all the eggs will develop into a viable embryo. Therefore, it is a good idea to have 2/3 oocytes per set.

For an in-depth discussion of egg versus embryo freezing, please see our “Egg versus Embryo Freezing” blog article.