Oocyte (egg) and embryo cryopreservation are fertility preservation techniques typically used for women facing cancer treatment or in the process of undergoing IVF procedures.
However, more clinics are now offering the service as a social option for women who wish to prolong their fertility.
A recent study found that up to 50% of fertility clinics are now offering “social egg freezing” as a service.
This concerns some physicians, as egg freezing is still in the experimental stages and not recommended as a fertility preservation option for healthy women. Rather, it should be relied upon only when other options aren’t available.
However, thanks to a new quick egg freezing process called vitrification, egg viability following the process can be as high as 90%.
As a result of this increased viability, pregnancy rates following the procedure are also increasing.
Embryo freezing is another option that’s becoming more popular for couples who are postponing pregnancy. For this procedure, a man’s sperm and woman’s eggs are used to generate embryos in culture. The embryos are then stored frozen for future implantation.
This process has ethical concerns though. In the event of a divorce, it can be difficult to determine who maintains rights to the embryos.
Though these fertility preservation options are becoming more mainstream, experts caution that they shouldn’t be relied upon in place of natural conception, if possible.