Egg freezing is a process in which a woman’s eggs (oocytes) are extracted, frozen and stored. Later, when they are ready to become pregnant, the eggs can be thawed, fertilized with sperm and transferred to the uterus as embryos.
There are three groups of women who avail egg freeze. Women or young girls diagnosed with cancer, who have not yet begun chemotherapy or radiotherapy should be offered the egg freeze as fertility sparing option. Women undergoing treatment with assisted reproductive technologies not suitable for transfer are also suitable for embryo freeze. Women who are not in a relationship and would like to preserve their future ability to have children, also are considering egg freeze as a social option.
Eggs are frozen using a newer flash-freezing process known as vitrification. Vitrification results in solid glass-like cell, free of ice crystals and eliminates ice formation inside and outside of oocytes on cooling, during cryostorage and on warming. Vitrification is associated with higher survival rates and better development.
The procedure involves stimulation of ovaries with IVF drugs and collection of the mature eggs with subsequent picking. The eggs can be frozen for a long time, however, in Victoria, the laws allow storage for 10 years, after which an extension application for freezing has to be applied.