Egg freezing does not guarantee pregnancy success

Oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) is a popular medical technique in Europe which is used as an assisted reproductive method. Women, who do not have own frozen eggs but need IVF can use donor cells, which are also can be frozen and transferred.

B0009940 Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI),
Credit: Maurizio De Angelis. Wellcome Images

European countries where IVF is permitted by the local law use frozen eggs, which they often buy in foreign states. Egg donation procedure is legal only in some European states. And not all but only few women are ready to share own eggs. Very few want to risk own health sharing eggs for nothing.

Demand for donor oocytes has been rapidly increasing. Many European countries buy donor cells in Ukraine and conduct IVF programs at home. Technology of eggs cryopreservation is very popular in Spain. Since not many women there are willing to share own eggs for the sake of foreign infertile couples, Spain doctors buy eggs in Ukrainian fertility clinics

In Ukraine, market of assisted reproductive technologies was monopolized by the big medical BioTexCom center. Patients from all over the world address this fertility clinic in order to undergo IVF, surrogacy or use donor eggs. BioTexCom clinic uses fresh biological material conducting IVF procedures in Ukraine. Success rate speaks for itself — 85% of ART programs have a successful outcome. Spain doctors use the same cells, but frozen, and as a result they have rather low success rate – it is only 5-10%.

Spain fertility clinics buy cheap cells of the lowest class in Ukraine, in particular in BioTexCom. Cells of initially poor quality, being subject to the freezing processes lose their ability to successful fertilization. 70% of cells just die during cryopreservation stages.

BioTexCom center for human reproduction has high success rates of all ART programs. Local embryologists use only fresh cells of high quality. Spain could buy in Ukraine eggs of any class. But cells of lower quality are 4 times cheaper therefore Spanish doctors prefer «budget choice».

Egg freezing is viewed as a way to improve women’s chances of conceiving at older ages. Also it can be a good possibility to have IVF with donor eggs in any age and clinic. But the procedure is far from a perfect fix. In fact, egg freezing is not recommended as a way for women to delay having children as well as to conduct IVF at any age and due to any medical reason. The same can be said towards donor frozen eggs — specialists note.

Thus American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) noted there is not enough data to recommend that women freeze their eggs for the sole purpose of delaying childbearing. That’s because studies are lacking «to support the safety, efficacy, ethics, emotional risks and cost-effectiveness» of egg freezing for this purpose, the ASRM said.

Still, the ASRM does recommend egg freezing for several other groups of people, including women who, for example, have cancer, and may lose their fertility during chemotherapy.

Many women who freeze their eggs say they think of the procedure as an «insurance policy» in case they aren’t able to become pregnant at older ages. But freezing eggs does not guarantee pregnancy success. Studies conducted in Europe on frozen eggs from donors under age 30 found that women’s pregnancy rates ranged from 36 to 61 percent. This figure is even less when it concerns women after 40 years old.

Today Spain, as well as some other states, introduces vitrification method. Vitrification can enhance quality of freezing — thawing oocytes process. As a result material will be exposed to less risk and has more chances to survive. But, anyway, this is far from ideal. There is a strong possibility that this method will become the best practice for freezing eggs in future. Anyway egg freezing is still a new science and scientists continue to work on improving this great technique. Many issues are needed to be done to optimize the processes of freezing and thawing of eggs. Probably in about 10 years medicine and science will achieve great results in the egg freezing sphere. It will be an innovative method of egg freezing as a result of which quality of material will rise and number of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and congenital anomalies will be minimized. And then Spain will be able to boast of high birth rates in IVF with donor eggs and lead the list of leaders in this area.


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