A New Era of In Vitro
A local couple reaches a milestone in reproductive science, pointing the way toward a whole new future.
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Yet egg freezing is unlikely to become routine until the American Society for Reproductive Medicine changes its classification from “an experimental procedure.” If egg freezing were no longer considered experimental, Feinberg says, two groups of women would benefit: those who want to preserve fertility before undergoing treatment for life-threatening diseases such as cancer, and “women who want to keep options open” by freezing young, healthy eggs for a pregnancy later in life.
Russell is working on a method to harvest immature eggs without the use of fertility drugs, then mature the eggs in the lab. The process would be less expensive, and it would appeal to women who do not want to use fertility drugs or who fail to respond to fertility drugs, Russell says.
Though the number of women who elect to freeze eggs remains low, the buzz about vitrification could change that. “There appears to be a tide change of acceptance of cryopreservation,” says Tucker.
Both Delaware Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Reproductive Associates of Delaware offer egg freezing. Women in their early 40s usually ask doctors about freezing eggs to preserve fertility. Though younger eggs are more viable, women in their 20s and 30s do not feel the same urgency, especially since the cost can be $5,000 for retrieval and storage, Russell says.
Debate continues about the costs and benefits of freezing eggs and whether it gives women false hope about their ability to delay pregnancy, though some professionals have equated egg freezing with the pill for its ability to liberate women.
A recent article in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s journal Fertility and Sterility predicted recent advances in vitrification will make it “the method of female fertility preservation that will be widely used in the near future.”