The process of fertility preservation, especially in cancer patients often occurs at a rapid pace. For those hoping to save their reproductive organs and cells from chemotherapy often have to make a decision rather quickly. For women, it often boils down to preference when deciding on freezing the eggs or the embryos. Though cryopreservation of eggs is most common these days, there were some challenges that arose when experts first began experimenting with the procedure.
Medical professionals have been successfully freezing embryos for over 30 years. There have been countless numbers of children born from frozen embryos. A vast majority of these births have resulted in babies as healthy as those created through the fresh embryos of IVF. When it came to egg freezing, the process wasn’t as smooth and simple. Since the human egg is the largest cell in the body and contains a great deal of water, ice crystals can sometimes form within the egg. This along with other freezing hazards has stunted the development of egg cryopreservation. Thanks to advances in medical technology, the freezing of eggs and embryos are now at the same level of success rate.
The argument between freezing eggs and embryos comes down to the individual needs of the future parent or parents. For single women, egg freezing is clearly the first option. Women don’t have the luxury of infinite fertility, as most men do. Couples who are looking to delay starting a family, are most often advised to freeze the embryos (as it is the egg fertilized with the sperm). Since the technique of embryo freezing has been successful for decades, it is often the more appealing choice for couples, who don’t want to start their families right away.
One of the pitfalls of embryo cryopreservation comes the potential of of excess supplies. There is a ongoing ethical debate about the decision that couples make, once their family has reached their desired capacity. Many couples struggle to decide whether or not to discard remaining embryos or donate them to research and families with infertility. The issue of divorce or death in a relationship also plays a major role in the decision to freeze embryos or eggs. Embryos are considered joint property within a couple and can therefore cause even more of a debacle. This debate is not seen around egg freezing, as it is not possible to initiate a pregnancy without the other piece of the puzzle.
When it comes down to it, there is no way to give someone a clear answer as to whether or not freezing and egg or an embryo is the best road to go down. The decision is often made on a case-by-case basis and will ultimately be up to the couple. When advising patients on which path to take, it is best that they know all of the options, with the positive and negative outcomes of both.