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Freezing Eggs To Increase Fertility

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Saturday, April 26, 2008 | 0 comments

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Freezing Eggs To Increase FertilityMore than six million American women and their partners face some kind of infertility issue. Fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization have helped millions, but what about women who still can't conceive?

In 1997, embryologist Michael Tucker became the first United States scientist to produce a baby from a frozen donor egg. Freezing eggs was groundbreaking technology then, but…

"The potential was as low as five percent per thawing that you would actually end up with a baby," says Michael Tucker, Ph.D., an embryologist with Georgia Reproductive Specialists in Atlanta. "These were not good odds."

Now Dr. Tucker says he's found a new process called that significantly improves the odds.

"By avoiding ice formation -- especially with the human egg, which is the largest cell in the human body -- we are able to get much more consistent survival of the cell," Dr. Tucker says.

Eggs are flash frozen in thin tubes, then thawed later for use. Dr. Tucker says 80 percent of eggs survive this process … compared to about 50-percent with conventional freezing. And that means better odds overall.

"That's what you want to be able to say to an individual woman, we can offer consistently a 30 percent chance per attempt of thawing your eggs using this process of actually having a live born baby," Dr. Tucker says.

After three years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, Kurena and Mark Hill became Dr. Tucker's first test case for vitrification. Now they have Rylie -- Dr. Tucker's newest success story. The new egg freezing technology is still experimental, and the idea itself is still controversial. But for the Hills, having their daughter means everything.

"Oh my God, she means … sorry to cry, but she means so much to me," Kurena says. "She's such my miracle."

It's too soon to say whether this new egg freezing technique can be an option for women in their 30's and 40's trying to save their eggs for the future. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine warns that egg freezing in general "should not be marketed or used as a means to defer reproductive aging."

Georgia Reproductive Specialists


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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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