The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has removed the “experimental” label from egg freezing techniques used to preserve a woman’s fertility. But it still isn’t recommending the procedure for widespread use, saying it may give women “false hope,” and encourage them to delay childbearing.
Fertilized embryos have long been frozen and used to help infertile couples conceive, but the freezing of unfertilized eggs has only been closely studied as a reproductive technique since around 2001. It has mainly been used in women who were facing cancer treatment or other health issues that would damage their eggs. The ASRM’s previous report on egg freezing in 2008 called the technique experimental, and recommended that it only be offered in that context.
When used with in vitro fertilization, the new report, released at the society’s annual meeting Oct. 22, concludes that previously frozen eggs are as likely as fresh to produce healthy babies. But the society’s statement urges caution.
The quality of a woman’s eggs declines with age, making this an important factor. ASRM also cited a lack of data on safety, effectiveness, cost and emotional risks. “Patients who wish to pursue this technology should be carefully counseled,” says the report.