The advantages of oocyte banking

Last updated date: 15-Aug-2023

Originally Written in English

The advantages of oocyte banking

advantages of oocyte banking

What is oocyte banking?

All women share the desire to become mothers. Female fertility begins to decline in her late twenties, although conception rates remain high well into her thirties. After the age of 35, the drop increases until the woman approaches almost 0% pregnancy potential by the age of 45. Furthermore, because of age-related decreases in egg quality, women over 35 have a higher chance of miscarriage and/or genetic defects in their offspring.

The freezing of one or more unfertilized eggs (eggs that have not been joined with sperm) for future use. In the laboratory, the eggs are thawed and fertilized to create embryos that can be implanted in a woman's uterus. Oocyte banking Also known as egg freezing, egg cryopreservation, and oocyte cryopreservation, is being researched as a method of preserving fertility. It might be beneficial for cancer patients who wish to have children after undergoing radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or certain forms of surgery, all of which can induce infertility. 

Oocyte cryopreservation, also known as vitrification (egg freezing), is a cutting-edge method that extracts, freezes, and stores a woman's eggs (oocyte bank). When she is ready, the frozen eggs can be thawed, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus as embryos.

Over the last few years, oocyte cryopreservation has evolved significantly, with increased overall success of eggs surviving the freezing process. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine no longer considers it an experimental technique. The treatments that lead to increased gamete survival, potential fertilization, and live birth rates provide women far more control than was feasible even five years ago.


Why women choose to freeze their eggs?

Every year, about 50,000 reproductive-age women in the United States are diagnosed with cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation are harmful to oocytes, resulting in a small number, if any, viable eggs. Egg freezing allows cancer patients to store their eggs in order to have children in the future.

Oocyte cryopreservation is intended for three types of women: those who have been diagnosed with cancer but have not yet started chemotherapy or radiotherapy; those who are undergoing treatment with assisted reproductive technologies but do not consider embryo freezing an option; and those who want to preserve their future ability to have children, either because they do not yet have a partner or for other personal or medical reasons.

Oocyte cryopreservation is an essential alternative for IVF patients who disagree to the practice of freezing embryos for religious or ethical concerns. It might be a good idea to fertilize only as many eggs as will be used in the IVF procedure and then freeze any remaining unfertilized eggs. This manner, no extra embryos are developed, and there is no need for unused frozen embryo disposal, which can be a difficult decision for some people.

Egg freezing can also help women who want to delay childbirth for educational, professional, or other reasons. Freezing eggs at a young age may secure a future pregnancy. Women who have a family history of early menopause are also interested in fertility preservation. They will have a frozen store of eggs if their eggs are reduced at a young age thanks to egg freezing.


How to prepare for oocyte banking?

prepare for oocyte banking

If you're thinking about freezing your eggs, seek for a reproductive clinic that specializes in the procedure. Experts are often referred to as reproductive endocrinologists.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology both publish online information regarding pregnancy and live birth rates at U.S. reproductive clinics, while data on pregnancies utilizing frozen eggs is sparse. However, keep in mind that the success rate of a clinic is determined by a variety of factors, including the ages of the women it serves.

If the cost of egg freezing worries you, inquire about the prices involved with each phase of the operation as well as the yearly storage fees. You will almost certainly undergo certain screening blood tests before commencing the egg-freezing process, including:

  • Ovarian reserve testing. On day three of your menstrual cycle, your doctor may test the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol in your blood to evaluate the amount and quality of your eggs. The results can help anticipate how your ovaries will react to fertility drugs. To acquire a more full-picture of ovarian function, another blood test and an ultrasound of the ovaries may be done.
  • Infectious disease screening. You'll get tested for infectious illnesses including HIV and hepatitis B and C.


What is the process of oocyte banking?

process of oocyte banking

Egg banking is an assisted reproductive technology treatment that involves retrieving several eggs from a woman after hormonal hyperstimulation. Unlike embryo banking, the eggs are not fertilized before cryopreservation. The egg banking procedure might take up to a month to finish.


Ovarian stimulation:

A woman's ovaries typically produce one egg every month. When there are fewer eggs available for freezing, the odds of a successful pregnancy decrease. A lady will receive hormone therapy to promote egg production in order to optimize the quantity of accessible eggs. This therapy often involves a woman to inject herself with hormones between one and three times per day at home.

Most women will also take birth control tablets for at least a month prior to getting hormone injections. This reduces the normal cycle and boosts the hormone's efficacy. You will be given synthetic hormones to induce your ovaries to create many eggs rather than the one egg that matures monthly. Medications that may be required include:

  • Medications for ovarian stimulation. You might inject medication such as follitropin alfa or beta or menotropins.
  • Medications to prevent premature ovulation. Your doctor might prescribe an injectable gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist such as leuproline acetate (Lupron Depot) or a gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist such as cetrorelix (Cetrotide).

Your doctor will keep an eye on you during therapy. Blood tests will be performed to assess your reaction to ovarian-stimulating medicines. Estrogen levels rise as follicles form, whereas progesterone levels stay low until after ovulation.

Vaginal ultrasound – a treatment that utilizes sound waves to generate an image of the interior of your ovaries — will also be performed at follow-up appointments to monitor the development of fluid-filled sacs where eggs mature (follicles). When the follicles are developed enough for egg retrieval (10 to 14 days), an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin or another medicine can assist the eggs mature.


Egg retrieval:

Egg retrieval is usually done under anesthesia at your doctor's office or a facility. Transvaginal ultrasound aspiration is a typical procedure in which an ultrasound probe is placed into your vagina to detect the follicles.

A needle is then inserted into a follicle via the vagina. The egg is extracted from the follicle using a suction device attached to the needle. Multiple eggs can be extracted, and studies suggest that the more eggs extracted — up to 15 each cycle — the greater the odds of conception. You may have cramping after egg retrieval. Because your ovaries are still enlarged, you may experience fullness or pressure for several weeks.


Egg freezing:

Your unfertilized eggs are chilled to subzero temperatures shortly after they are extracted to preserve them for future use. The composition of an unfertilized egg makes it more difficult to freeze and lead to a successful pregnancy than the composition of a fertilized egg (embryo).

The most popular method for freezing eggs is known as vitrification. With fast chilling, high quantities of chemicals that aid in the formation of ice crystals during the freezing process (cryoprotectants) are utilized.


Following the procedure:

You should be able to resume normal activities within a week following egg retrieval. To avoid an unplanned pregnancy, avoid unprotected intercourse. If you develop any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor:

  • A fever higher than 101.5 F (38.6 C)
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Weight gain of more than 2 pounds (0.9 kilograms) in 24 hours
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding — filling more than two pads an hour
  • Difficulty urinating


What happens after oocyte banking?

 ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection)

When you and your partner/husband are ready to have a baby, you will be ready for a recipient cycle with drugs to arrange your uterine lining. Your frozen eggs will be thawed and fertilized with your partner's sperm utilizing the ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) procedure. After 2 or 3 days, the embryo transfer will be scheduled.

The data on pregnancies produced by egg freezing differs. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), 2-12 percent of frozen eggs develop into a viable pregnancy in women under the age of 38. This shows that after egg freezing, women may require numerous IVF rounds to become pregnant.

The following factors influence the effectiveness of egg freezing and thawing procedures:

  • Age on freezing the eggs: Younger women generate more eggs with fewer anomalies.
  • Age at time of egg thawing and IVF: Younger women are more likely to have successful pregnancies.
  • Sperm quality: Healthy sperm is more likely to produce a healthy embryo and a successful pregnancy.
  • The clinic: The success rates of freezing and thawing eggs vary between clinics.
  • The number of eggs: Freezing a larger number of eggs offers more opportunities for successful IVF cycles.


How long can oocytes be stored?

Freezing of eggs

The freezing of an egg prevents it from aging. A frozen egg from several years ago has a greater likelihood of fertilization than a fresh egg from an older woman. The majority of frozen egg studies looked at eggs that were a few months old. The time frame during which a specialist can freeze eggs is unknown. Most studies recommend storing eggs in their mid-to-late twenties for usage beyond the age of 30. Women who are thinking about IVF should not put it off any longer than necessary. According to one study, around 75% of frozen eggs survive the thawing process.

Embryos are more likely than eggs to withstand freezing and thawing and to result in a healthy pregnancy. Women who have a partner or want to utilize donor sperm should consider preserving embryos instead of only eggs.

Storing the eggs for prolonged periods of time does not appear to have any detrimental consequences. However, data are only available for up to 4 years of storage. It should be noted that greater mother age when carrying a pregnancy is related with an increased risk of pregnancy issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cesarean delivery. Most clinics have an upper age restriction for when these gametes can be utilized to establish conception.


What are the possible risks of oocyte banking?

Egg freezing

Egg freezing carries various risks, including:

  • Conditions related to the use of fertility drugs. In rare cases, using injectable fertility medicines to stimulate ovulation, such as synthetic follicle-stimulating hormone or luteinizing hormone, might cause your ovaries to become enlarged and painful immediately after ovulation or egg retrieval (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome). Abdominal discomfort, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are all signs and symptoms. Even more unusual is the chance of acquiring a more severe version of the condition, which can be fatal.
  • Egg retrieval procedure complications. Using an aspirating needle to extract eggs infrequently results in bleeding, infection, or harm to the colon, bladder, or a blood vessel.
  • Emotional risks. Although egg freezing can offer hope for a future pregnancy, there is no assurance of success.
  • Some women may have cramps, bloating, spotting, weight gain, bloating, mood fluctuations, and headaches following egg retrieval.

If you use frozen eggs to conceive a kid, the chance of miscarriage is mostly determined by your age when the eggs were frozen. Miscarriage rates are greater in older women, owing to their older eggs. To present, no research has found an increase in the incidence of birth abnormalities in babies born as a consequence of egg freezing. However, additional study on the safety of egg freezing is required.


What are the advantages of oocyte banking?

oocyte banking procedure

If you're between the ages of 25 and 35, not in a committed relationship, and want to increase your chances of conception with your own eggs in the future, Egg Banking is a viable choice for you. This is also an honest choice for young women with cancer, individuals with a history of early menopause, and persons with chronic conditions if the medicine may impair oocyte function.

Many women put off starting a family while looking for a life mate, and many others do so for educational, career, or financial reasons. Historically, the only alternative available to female patients was embryo cryopreservation. This approach, while successful, has a significant disadvantage in that it requires a sperm donor to generate the embryos. As a result, this option is plainly unavailable to single women.

Fortunately, the development of effective and reliable oocyte freezing allows you to retain your fertility until you are ready to have children. All women who are concerned about their future fertility can benefit from egg banking. It significantly boosts a woman's ability to bear children later in life.

While embryo banking may be appropriate for some, egg freezing is a powerful tool for women in their late twenties to mid-thirties who are still seeking for the proper partner with whom to raise children. Women who are single or in partnerships can get greater control over their parenting path by freezing their eggs. You don't have to wait for the appropriate spouse or donor if you go this route to protect your fertility and plan for the future.


Egg freezing can help reduce “fertility anxiety”

One of the benefits of egg freezing that most patients express is a sensation of calm or relaxation afterward. Because our biology does not always follow our chosen timeframe, some women have "fertility anxiety"—the sense that their fertility is falling yet they are not in a position to have a kid right now.

According to one study, egg freezing improves the mental health of many women by decreasing anxiety. Egg freezing may give some comfort from self-recrimination and bring some piece of mind. Women might be judgmental of themselves, blaming themselves for "not conceiving or marrying sooner." Egg freezing can ease this stress and make women less concerned about their biological clock.

Patients frequently mention how egg freezing helps them relieve stress and anxiety. Egg freezing helps women to be better prepared, allowing them to make more clear-headed decisions free of pressure and worry. One of the most significant advantages of egg freezing is simply a higher quality of life.


Egg freezing can give you time to find the right partner

According to studies, the majority of women freeze their eggs because they do not yet have a partner with whom they wish to have children. Egg freezing may be a good idea for single women since fertility concerns may prevent them from finding the perfect person or force them to settle for someone they're not sure about.

Dating works best when individuals concentrate on the current moment, learning about the person in front of them and deciding if they want to learn more. When some women are preoccupied with their fertility, it might be difficult for them to be present and not feel rushed. For some women, freezing their eggs may bring a sense of comfort since it allows them to focus on their date without worrying about establishing an imminent match due to their biological clocks.

The most significant advantage of egg freezing is that women are no longer in a rush to find a committed partner. They sense a significant level of relationship relaxation, which enhances the likelihood that they will discover a good connection since they don't feel obligated to make someone fit who doesn't.


Egg freezing can protect your eggs from disease or preserve them before invasive medical treatments:

This is one of the advantages of egg freezing for women suffering from cancer, endometriosis, or other disorders affecting their eggs, ovaries, or reproductive systems. Because some cancer therapies might jeopardize a woman's fertility, egg freezing was first created to assist women with cancer in preserving fertility. Chemotherapy and radiation therapies, for example, might mistakenly harm or destroy the eggs in a woman's ovaries in addition to the disease.

Surgery to remove tumors or the diseased ovary (or ovaries), uterus, or Fallopian tubes can also make it more difficult or impossible for a woman to conceive on her own, and pelvic surgery always entails the risk of scarring or ovaries or reproductive system damage.

Egg freezing has various advantages for women who have endometriosis. Endometriosis causes scar tissue in the reproductive system, which can impair fertility and may reduce egg quality because it causes an inflammatory environment in the reproductive system. Furthermore, several therapies for endometriosis, including as surgery, might impact the ovaries and lower ovarian reserve (the number of eggs remaining in the ovary).

One of the most significant advantages of egg freezing is that doing so before cancer or endometriosis treatment, or early in the evolution of endometriosis, can provide women with the possibility to create a family when they are well again, as well as additional possibilities for the future.


How much does oocyte banking cost?

Eggs segregate

Freezing eggs is a costly operation that is not covered by most insurance policies. A single cycle might cost well over $10,000. Other expenses include egg storage and IVF, which might cost an extra $5,000. In addition, egg storage is infinite; a woman may not require the egg for 10-15 years. As a result, continuing egg storage expenses will continue to rise.

Because of this, insurance is unlikely to cover egg freezing. While the technique can offer a personalized, long-term answer to reproductive issues, it is not active therapy and has no set end date. Inquire with your insurance company about their policy on egg freezing.



long-term embryo cryopreservation

Many practitioners have long hoped to include oocyte cryopreservation into their clinical practice of assisted reproduction. Oocyte cryopreservation expands the applicability of assisted reproduction to fertile women. It can be used to prevent long-term embryo cryopreservation, to save cycles that have been hampered by ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or sperm failure, and to avoid synchronization difficulties in oocyte-donation cycles.

Fertile women may use this technique to electively delay childbirth or as a fertility preservation approach when faced with a new cancer diagnosis and sterilizing procedures such as chemotherapy, radiation, or extirpative surgery. Recent improvements in assisted reproduction and embryology, such as better culture media, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and cryoprotectant optimization, have made oocyte cryopreservation a realistic option.