ASRM Endorses Egg Freezing
No longer experimental. That was the much-anticipated statement about egg (oocyte) freezing coming from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) on October 19, 2012. The statement came after much work and deliberation by ASRM experts, who reviewed the world literature on the effectiveness and safety of egg freezing and, most importantly, on the desired outcome: healthy babies.
Safe and effective
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) had endorsed oocyte freezing as a standard and safe procedure in March of 2012. So many of us were waiting with bated breath for ASRM to also endorse egg freezing as an appropriate and safe procedure for our patients in the United States.
The lifting of the "experimental" label now provides reassurance to our patients who proceed to treatment using the process of egg freezing. It is particularly relevant for those who are attempting pregnancies using frozen donor eggs. The ASRM announcement is also especially good timing for our clinic. We officially opened our Pacific Fertility Egg Bank on August 1st and have been looking forward to helping our patients create their families with full confidence in these technologies.
New requirements for egg banks?
With this announcement comes a likely, yet still undetermined, change for egg banks. They may now have to follow a similar process as that used by sperm banks. That is, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may impose a mandatory six-month quarantine and retesting of donors, just as sperm banks have been required to do prior to the release of sperm samples. Previously, a quarantine of "experimental" frozen eggs was not enforceable because it was not clear that frozen eggs would function the same way as fresh eggs.
Although ASRM endorsed egg freezing for patients seeking fertility preservation prior to cancer therapy, they did not encourage egg freezing for "social reasons," such as a delay in childbearing. ASRM's justification is this: Although the technical procedure of egg freezing is safe, we do not have enough long-term data about babies born to women using eggs frozen when they are older than 35. More studies are being published regarding this age range, and all is reassuring. Our hope is that ASRM will soon endorse egg freezing for "social reasons," since many of our patients are seeking this option for fertility preservation and planning their family.
- Isabelle Ryan, M.D.
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