The results of a new double-blind study on egg freezing have captured a great deal of attention within the fertility community. This new study finds a distinct disadvantage to the popular reproduction assistance technology of egg freezing. The rate of live births from embryos created through the use of frozen eggs is significantly lower than that of live births resulting from fresh eggs.
These results have been reached based upon a thorough examination of data collected from thousands of different fertility cycles in 2013 – the most recent year for which detailed information is available. At the time of this study, more recent data was still being analyzed.
The study raises significant questions with regard to the future of egg freezing. The process was intended to be an additional means of insurance, allowing intended parents to delay fertility as circumstances mandated. However, long-term egg preservation may now be in serious jeopardy from its much-reported cons.
Some sources suggest that the different rates of embryonic viability are separated by a significant margin: an overall rate of thirty percent viability for formerly frozen eggs, as opposed to fifty percent for fresh eggs. The study mentioned at the opening of this article observes a slightly less stark comparison, but it still presents a significant gap: it suggests that a given fertility cycle from 2013 was 19% more likely to result in a live birth if it used an egg which had never been frozen. It also rated the overall likelihood of a live birth in either case as being significantly higher than what had been previously calculated: 47% for embryos resulting from frozen eggs, and 56% for fresh eggs.
The study is based upon an examination of more than 11,100 cycles. It was authored by Vitaly Kushnir of the Center for Human Reproduction in New York, based upon information provided to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Every reported reproductive cycle involving donated eggs in 2013 was included within the study for consideration, making this one of the most comprehensive analyses on the subject to date.
It is apparent that egg freezing comes with inherent disadvantages regarding the likelihood of an eventual live birth. However, this and other recent studies have also concluded that certain other factors were not likewise influenced. These concerns include such considerations as the likelihood of birth defects, as well as that of chromosomal disorders. Such occurrences do not present as being influenced in frequency or severity through the use of frozen eggs, although multiple sources concede that presently there is little data to rely on.
Dr. Kushnir's conclusions fall short of offering a definitive, specific explanation as to why frozen eggs are less likely to result in live births. The freezing and thawing process may be causing damage to a certain number of eggs, but that isn't the only possibility. Another possibility lies in the fact that frozen eggs are typically sold by the half dozen. A woman who uses a donor for fresh eggs receives, by necessity, all of the eggs that the donor provides; this is typically between fifteen and twenty eggs. A donated quantity of eggs which are subsequently frozen will be divided between at least two different women. The resulting difference in the rate of live births may lie, in whole or in part, in the difference in the number of eggs used.
If you decide to take the route of egg freezing, make sure you educate yourself on the various risks associated with the process. Without definitive proof that a potentially inferior quality in frozen eggs is not to blame for the lower rate of live births, the suggestion made by Dr. Kushnir and his colleagues is that written, appropriately informed consent should be obtained from anyone considering the use of frozen eggs for reproductive assistance therapies, specific to the potential risks of reduced viability.
Explore other, safer alternatives to egg freezing. Instead of egg freezing, try to learn more about the option of fresh egg donation from a live egg donor. An IVF transfer using fresh eggs results in greater chances of having a baby – which is ultimately the goal for hopeful parents. If you’re interested in learning more about the egg donation process, be sure to visit ConceiveAbilities’ website.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.