Because of advances in science and technology, cryopreservation — freezing — of a woman’s eggs is now available to help preserve fertility for patients at Piedmont Reproductive Endocrinology Group (PREG). PREG has three fertility center locations: Greenville, S.C.; Spartanburg, S.C.; and Asheville, N.C.
Egg freezing had been considered experimental until recently when The Association of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) approved the procedure as a standardized treatment of care to preserve fertility. The two PREG fertility doctors — John Nichols, M.D., and John Payne, M.D., have always been on the forefront of advances in reproductive sciences, and their expertise now allows patients in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee experience the fertility of younger women well past their stated age.
Below, PREG's Dr. Payne answered some questions regarding egg freezing.
Who are you offering egg freezing services to? What types of patients?
PREG has partnered with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and the Livestrong Organization to provide onco-fertility preservation services to men and women undergoing treatment for cancer. We are also offering egg freezing to all women to give them a choice to preserve their fertility until they have achieved their educational and career goals or until the timing is right in their lives.
At your fertility clinic, what do you consider the optimal age for egg freezing? What are the criteria?
The optimal age for fertility preservation would be under the age of 35, but certainly under the age of 40. This would be the time that women would have the best fertility rates and the best quality eggs to cryopreserve.
We do not have a specific cutoff age for fertility preservation. This would depend on the doctor’s medical opinion, the patient’s lab values and other diagnoses affecting the patient’s health. The cut off age for having an embryo transfer in our facility is 50. After age 43, we require a medical clearance with an EKG before attempting pregnancy.
Once eggs are frozen, where are they stored?
Cryopreserved eggs are stored at Piedmont Reproductive Endocrinology Group (PREG) for a period of three years and then transferred to a long-term storage facility.
How long do you feel eggs can be stored safely?
It is uncertain at this time how long eggs can be stored safely since the procedure and technology are so new. The longest period of cryopreserved eggs resulting in a pregnancy is 12 years. Much like embryo and sperm banking, as the technology advances, oocytes may be able to be frozen indefinitely.
How much does egg freezing cost at your fertility clinic?
The price for egg freezing is $6,500. They would have some stimulation meds to buy, but that covers all monitoring, the retrieval, cryopreservation and first year's storage.
What is the most exciting aspect of ASRM lifting the experimental label?
We do feel that by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s endorsing egg banking and lifting the experimental label, it opens the doors to many women to take control of their fertility issues. We see women on a daily basis who have done everything perfectly. They have achieved advanced degrees, gotten established in their careers and are now financially stable. By the time they reach the reproductive endocrinologist, they are in their late 30s to early 40s when fertility has dramatically declined.
It is heartbreaking to tell a woman that because she has achieved her goals that she has waited too late to think about having her biological child.
Many times in the past, donor in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryo adoption or traditional adoption would have been the only options for these women. By preserving a women’s fertility in her late 20s to early 30s, she can go ahead and get her education, achieve her dreams and also be a mother.
We believe that women, regardless of geographic location, will be interested in this exciting advancement. This should be a conversation that Ob/Gyns across the country are having with their patients on a regular basis.
If you are interested in egg freezing, CLICK HERE and we will will put you in contact with PREG or a fertility clinic near you!
November 7, 2012
Posted by Leigh Ann Woodruff