When researchers compared the number of live births that result from frozen eggs and fresh eggs, results showed that fresh eggs have a higher chance of becoming live babies.
However, the team calls for caution when it comes to interpreting the findings, because the anonymous data the clinics sent did not allow them to adjust the age of the mother or include a potential infertility diagnosis in their calculations.
Leading author of the study Dr. Norbert Gleicher, head of the Center for Human Reproduction in New York, explained that in spite of the lower rates of fertilization, the advantages of frozen eggs far outbalance the disadvantages; the mother has better choice in terms of doctors and flexibility of schedules, for example.
One of the most quoted situations where harvesting eggs is encouraged is when women plan on following chemotherapy, a treatment that can cause infertility. In this case, freezing eggs could be a safe alternative for later pregnancies.
Even though new research shows that the procedure is not always successful, freezing eggs has become more and more prevalent. In fact, major companies such as Apple and Facebook are now offering their female employers the possibility of having their eggs frozen.
It was predicted by the late Prof Carl Djerassi, the inventor of the Pill, that contraception methods will soon become redundant, because women will turn to the alternative of freezing their eggs during youth and then be sterilized.
Another procedure has grown in popularity in recent years: oocyte cryopreservation implies extracting, freezing and then storing a woman’s eggs. Because the womb has a slower aging rate, scientists hope to find new methods of enabling older, healthy women to carry a baby – maybe even after menopause has set in.
Inspired by the seemingly similar profit that comes from traditional in vitro fertilization (IVF) and IVF using oocyte cryopreservation, several US fertility clinics have branched out in the business of frozen donor egg banks.
However, this study published in the JAMA journal shows that using frozen eggs for IVF has a lower rate of live births when compared to using fresh oocytes (eggs). The new procedure allows doctors to transfer the created embryos instantly into the uterus, or to have them frozen (cryopreserved) for a later date.
Gleicher explained that, for now, the use of fresh eggs is still a woman’s best alternative to traditional fertilization – pregnancy rates are far superior and the years of experience offer a greater safety of IVF with fresh eggs.
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