Only seven percent of social egg freezers have returned for fertility treatment at a large European center

July 4, 2018, European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

Despite dramatic uptake in the numbers of women electing to freeze their eggs as insurance against an anticipated age-related fertility decline, there is still little that clinics can predict about outcome based on real-life experience. Indeed, at one of Europe's biggest fertility centres—the Brussels Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Belgium—only 7.6% of women have returned to thaw their eggs and try for a pregnancy. And only one-third of those have been successful.

Details of the follow-up, which recorded the experience of 563 women freezing their eggs between January 2009 and November 2017, are presented as a poster here at the 34th Annual Meeting of ESHRE in Barcelona. Such details, said investigator Michel De Vos from the Brussels group, "are needed for a comprehensive appraisal of social freezing". Otherwise, he added, "little is known about these 'social freezers' and their reproductive outcomes."

The review of data showed that the 563 women in the series had 902 assisted reproduction treatments to collect eggs. And that:

  • the mean age of those freezing their eggs was 36.5 years
  • a mean number of 8.5 eggs per patient were collected and frozen (by the rapid freezing technique of vitrification) at each treatment cycle
  • so far, just 12.8% (72 of 563) have returned to the clinic for reproduction treatment; of these, no more than 43 had their eggs thawed, fertilised and transferred
  • of these social freezers 43% had fertilisation with donor sperm either by intrauterine insemination or ICSI
  • the overall survival rate of thawed eggs was 73.4%, reflecting the high efficiency of the vitrification technology
  • in total the ongoing pregnancy after embryo transfer was 32.6% (14/43)

De Vos also noted that the majority of the social freezers who did return had found a suitable partner to pursue motherhood. But from the data he was unable to clarify "whether their previous decision to undergo oocyte cryopreservation has enhanced the probability of a live birth".

De Vos reported that these results in Brussels are in line with others from large fertility centres, of which one (in Valencia) recorded an ongoing pregnancy rate of 21%, and reflect the limitations of social egg freezing for women freezing eggs after the age of 35. He added that the average number of eggs retrieved in social freezers who did have an ongoing pregnancy was 9.2 eggs per patient.

While social egg freezing in Brussels reflects an upward trend in popularity apparent in many other large European and US fertility centres, De Vos urged women considering uptake after the age of 35 "not to have unrealistic expectations". "Our results show that one in three women who return to the clinic do achieve an ongoing with their vitrified oocytes," said De Vos. "They returned at a mean age of 42 years after having their oocytes vitrified at a mean age of 36 years." But he warned that—as with any fertility treatment—egg quality declines markedly with age, and success rates will be lower than 33% in freezing their beyond this age.

Explore further: Partnership problems and not career planning mainly explain why women are freezing their eggs

More information: Poster 523—Follow-up of elective oocyte cryopreservation for age-related reasons: utilisation of vitrified oocytes and reproductive outcomes of women who return.

Related Stories

Partnership problems and not career planning mainly explain why women are freezing their eggs

July 2, 2018
Contrary to common suggestion, women are opting to freeze their eggs not to pursue education or careers but for reasons "mostly revolving around women's lack of stable partnerships with men committed to marriage and parenting". ...

Is freezing human eggs really 'extremely unsuccessful'?

November 9, 2017
Freezing eggs is extremely unsuccessful. Although it's never admitted, it is true from the national statistics, how poor the chances of pregnancy are afterwards.

More than 8 million babies born from IVF since the world's first in 1978

July 3, 2018
Forty years after the birth of Louise Brown, the world's first test-tube baby, an international committee monitoring progress in assisted reproduction reports today that the global total of babies born as a result of IVF ...

Egg banking for social reasons

July 9, 2013
Egg freezing as insurance against age-related infertility is a growing trend in many countries. Women who bank oocytes for use at some time in the future hope to buy a little time in their search for a suitable partner.

Freeze-storage egg banking for egg donation treatment

July 1, 2014
The rapid freezing technique of vitrification is set to revolutionise egg donation as a fertility treatment by enabling freeze-storage egg-banking. The cryopreservation of eggs was one of IVF's continuing challenges until ...

Ten-year time limit on storing human eggs should be scrapped, says new research

September 8, 2016
The 10 year statutory time limit on the storage of human eggs should be scrapped to allow women to freeze their eggs for longer periods, according to new research from the London School of Economics and Political Science ...

Recommended for you

Undiagnosed STIs can increase negative PMS symptoms

September 17, 2018
Women that have undiagnosed sexually transmitted infections may be at greater risk of experiencing negative premenstrual symptoms (PMS), according to new Oxford University research.

High dose folic acid does not prevent pre-eclampsia in high risk women

September 13, 2018
Taking high dose folic acid supplements in later pregnancy (beyond the first trimester) does not prevent pre-eclampsia in women at high risk for this condition, finds a randomised controlled trial published by The BMJ today.

Study finds air purifiers may benefit fetal growth

September 12, 2018
A new study led by SFU health sciences researchers Prabjit Barn and Ryan Allen reveals fetal growth may improve if pregnant women use portable air purifiers inside their homes.

Delayed childbearing is a growing source of multiple births, study shows

September 12, 2018
Starting in the 1980s, the number of multiple births—twins, triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets—steadily increased from about 20 sets per 1,000 live births to almost 35 sets per 1,000 live births in the 2010s.

Transforming pregnancy research with a smartphone app

September 5, 2018
For years, pregnant women have been underrepresented in biomedical research. Current treatments, interventions and guidelines do a poor job of taking into consideration the diverse characteristics of all pregnant women.

For women undergoing IVF, is fresh or frozen embryo transfer best?

August 21, 2018
The world's first baby born via in-vitro fertilization turned 40 years old this summer. Still, after four decades, IVF is a relatively new field with ongoing debate on how to get the best results for families who have placed ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.