Researchers are making progress in their attempts to freeze and thaw women’s eggs. They are hopeful that one day soon women will have the same convenience of freezing their eggs as men have of freezing their sperm.
“This problem has befuddled scientists for many years,” said John Buster, a fertility specialist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who discussed the at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in San Francisco.
In the past, microscopic ice crystals would form and destroy the cells’ chromosomes. New techniques are eliminating the crystals from forming, allowing the high level of water in the egg cells to freeze safely.
Sperm are very condensed and almost water-free, allowing for simple freezing.
The ability to freeze female eggs would give young women with cancer, or middle-aged women choosing to be pregnant later in life, greater control over their own reproduction.
For over a decade, women have been able to freeze embryos. However, an embryo requires sperm, and not all women know who they want to provide the sperm at the time of freezing.
A few women have given birth to babies from frozen eggs, although most attempts have been failures thus far.