Modern reproductive medicine makes it possible: Social Freezing. The freezing of eggs for a later wish to have children is no longer a rarity. We explain how it works and what you should know about it. Fertility expert Dr. Silke Marr explains the possibilities offered by social freezing and when the best time is for egg retrieval and fertilization.
- 1. What is Social Freezing?
- 2. Interview with fertility expert Silke Marr
- 3. Can every woman freeze her eggs??
- 4. Social freezing and the costs
- 5. Freezing eggs: The procedure
- 6. How to fertilize eggs
- 7. When it makes sense to have eggs frozen
What is Social Freezing?
In social freezing, a number of healthy eggs are removed from the youngest possible woman and cryopreserved (frozen) so that they can later be artificially inseminated with a sperm in the laboratory. Just a few years ago, egg freezing was the subject of much debate. The issue hit the headlines as U.S. companies such as Apple and Google made egg cryopreservation palatable to their female employees and even financed it.
Critics in this country at the time saw the well-being of natural family planning endangered when companies interfered in the private lives of their female employees in favor of their careers and had a say in postponing the desire to have children until later. After thawing the eggs, it depends on many factors whether they can be successfully fertilized and whether a pregnancy will occur.
The fact that this is becoming socially acceptable in Germany as a company service is far from reality. For certain women, social freezing can really mean a chance to have a child. Because not only career women are interested in freezing their eggs. Young women with a disease such as endometriosis in particular do not know whether they will still have healthy eggs at a certain point in time and whether they could become pregnant. For women with certain illnesses or women undergoing cancer therapy, social freezing can be a real solution for realizing their desire to have a child at a later stage.
Interview with fertility expert Silke Marr
Dr. Silke Marr is a reproductive physician who carries out artificial insemination and fertility treatments at the Kinderwunschzentrum an der Gedachtniskirche in Berlin. She regularly advises young women on the subject of social freezing and artificial insemination and answers some of our questions on the subject of egg freezing.
When is the best time to freeze your eggs??
"Unfortunately, many women take advantage of this opportunity much too late and contact me only in their late 30s or even later. A general age limit cannot be given, but the younger a woman is at the time of egg retrieval, the more eggs can be retrieved and the fewer retrievals are necessary for this purpose. Optimally, such a decision would be made by the age of 30. After the age of 35. After the age of 50, it should be assessed on the basis of the individual requirements, the results of the examination and the patient’s personal situation whether social freezing is still advisable."
This means that I should decide early on to have my eggs frozen?
"A girl has half a million eggs at the beginning of puberty, but then loses about 1000 eggs every month. Not only the number, but also the vitality of the eggs decreases continuously. This curve is even steeper from the age of 35 onwards. This means that the egg of a 25-year-old woman has more than three times the chance of developing into a healthy child after fertilization than the egg of a 40-year-old woman. In addition to the natural process of aging, the loss of eggs can also be accelerated by infection, disease, or surgery on the eggs."
Do frozen eggs, which are thawed after years, have the same chances of a successful pregnancy as with natural fertilization??
"If the eggs have been carefully frozen, they are stored at -196°C and should be thawed at the same quality level. The modern freezing methods allow us to expect a high degree of security. However, the fertilization rate of the eggs can only be estimated on the basis of statistical surveys, therefore it is also recommended to freeze 20 eggs or more, if possible.
The time of cryopreservation does not seem to be so important here, but it should be taken into account that pregnancy at an older age (>40 years) can entail more risks."
What do you think are the chances of social freezing for young women??
"The purpose of social freezing is a gain in freedom in life planning, but it does not exclude natural conception after this measure, so it should rather be seen as an insurance for the future."
Can every woman have her eggs frozen??
In principle, every woman can have her eggs frozen. However, it depends on some health aspects, which are clarified during a preliminary examination. There may be certain medical restrictions that preclude hormonal stimulation or. could talk about egg retrieval. If you are toying with this idea, you should visit a fertility clinic that offers social freezing at an early stage and have these points clarified.
Social Freezing and the costs
Unfortunately, social freezing is not financially supported by the health insurance funds or the state. It belongs according to According to the guidelines of the Social Security Code, social freezing is not covered by health insurance. However, some of the major U.S. companies based in Germany offer funding for this in this country as well.
You will have to calculate with costs of several thousand Euros for a cryocycle including medication. Payment is made for egg freezing only in the case of a medical indication. This means that since 2021, cancer patients have been reimbursed for egg freezing under certain conditions. In this case, the costs for subsequent artificial insemination are also covered on a pro rata basis.
Don’t forget that there is also an annual cost for storing the cryopreserved material. Your eggs will be stored for as long as you pay for them. For the later artificial insemination of the eggs there are also costs that you have to pay privately.
Artificial insemination: These costs await you
have your eggs frozen: The procedure
- Preliminary examination: First of all, a series of preliminary examinations will be carried out to check whether you have any health problems that would make egg collection impossible. Once this has been clarified, you will sign a contract for egg collection and cryopreservation. storage and you will also receive an estimate of the cost of the procedure.
- Hormonal Stimulation: In order to retrieve as many eggs as possible, the ovaries must be stimulated. In return, you will receive hormones that you will have to inject yourself on certain days.
- Follicle monitoring: Your attending physician or. The doctor will do an ultrasound every few days and will monitor your treatment. This allows them to see whether and how the eggs are maturing, so that there is no dangerous overstimulation with side effects.
- Puncture: When the follicles are well matured, a day is set to retrieve the eggs. This is called follicular puncture. On this day you will receive a local anesthesia and you will be sick for one day. The eggs are then removed vaginally, usually painlessly. You can usually go home again the same day.
- Cryopreservation of eggs: The eggs are cryopreserved in the laboratory immediately after retrieval and stored at – 196° C Stored in the clinic.
The procedure and all preliminary examinations are discussed in detail with your doctor. All possible risks will be clarified and you should ask all your questions.
The desire to have a child changes
Many women in their early 20s do not yet know whether they want to have children. The desire to have a child can change a lot in the course of life. Why not take advantage of the possibility offered by modern medicine?? The only problem for young women is the cost factor and the fact that you never have a guarantee that the fertilization will be successful. a pregnancy will result. There are many factors to consider. But I don’t see anything wrong with a young healthy woman deciding early on that she wants to preserve her healthy eggs for the future. Many a woman regrets her early opposition to having children at a more mature age and can therefore still become a mother later under certain circumstances. There is never a guarantee of pregnancy anyway.
How to fertilize the eggs
The frozen eggs can be stored for as long as you wish, at your own expense. The longer you wait and the older the woman, the lower the chances that the fertilized egg will implant.
You can still have your eggs fertilized and used when you are 40 years old or older. You will have to bear the costs for the later artificial insemination yourself anyway and in the end it depends on your health how long a pregnancy is likely to last.
The procedure by which the later thawed eggs are then fertilized with a male sperm is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI procedure. You can have the eggs fertilized with a fresh sperm donation from your partner or resort to an anonymous donation. Most fertility clinics also have sperm databases.
My ICSI experience: about the great fortune of getting pregnant thanks to artificial insemination
When it makes sense to freeze eggs
The reasons to freeze your own eggs vary widely. Your life situation in your early 20s isn’t always such that you’re ready to have a child or find the right partner or. Have a partner who wants to do the same. Likewise, it may also be that you still have a lot to achieve professionally and therefore want to make provisions for it. Why a woman chooses to do this is left entirely up to her personally.
In addition, there may be medical reasons where egg retrieval is even recommended. Young cancer patients at an early stage of the disease have a good opportunity to fulfill their desire to have children after treatment and recovery. Whether this is possible must, of course, be decided by the doctor treating you or by the fertility clinic. clarify with the doctor.
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