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New Fertility Options: Freezing Eggs: November 9, 2011

Fertility treatments have come a long way baby. The first child conceived through in vitro fertilization was born in 1978. That milestone gave birth to a new age in conception.

“In the early days the success rates were only about 14% per try. This was in the late 70s early 80s,” says Dr. Craig Sweet, a reproductive endocrinologist with on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

A new fertility option is freezing eggs in the hopes of conceiving a baby at a future time, something that may give hope to females fighting cancer or other health issues.

“If you look at freezing eggs there’s a whole list of about seven or eight reasons why we would freeze eggs, cancer just being one of them. Those patients potentially can have ovarian tissue removed and stored or eggs removed and frozen for future use,” says Dr. Sweet.

The procedure is considered experimental.

“The ethics committee of American Society of Reproductive Medicine took the very unusual step to say if one is going to offer an egg freezing program one has to work with an institutional review board for human experimentation,” says Dr. Sweet.

So doctor Craig Sweet has started his own reproductive study, the first step is freezing eggs.

“Human eggs are the largest cell of the body, and they have the most amount of water, and water when you freeze, turns into ice, ice crystals can destroy the cell the internal structures.”

Freezing eggs calls for new techniques because they are more delicate than sperm or embryos.

“One aspect was to freeze the eggs very rapidly in a process called vitrification, so you essentially remove the water almost disocate dry the eggs and then freeze them very, very fast,” says Dr. Sweet.

The next step involves thawing the eggs without damaging them.

“The second part of the study is ease of use of thawing and then the obvious success rates of implantation pregnancy,” says Dr. Sweet.

Freezing eggs may also provide women an opportunity to delay reproduction. In its testing phase, the process is providing successful as the once frozen eggs are baring fruit.

“As of 2010, and there were 936 children delivered, through egg freezing process,” says Dr. Sweet.