Phoenix doctor marks National Infertility Awareness Week with cautions about a popular rush to use new technology
PHOENIX, AZ (STL.News) – Twenty-first-century breakthroughs in medical technology have drawn tens of thousands of young women to freeze their eggs in hopes of slowing their biological clocks, yet egg freezing remains one of the most difficult technologies for fertility clinics to master, and young women should be wary of a new wave of specialized egg freezing agencies and unsubstantiated claims of success, says the medical director of Arizona Reproductive Medicine Specialists, a Phoenix clinic recently awarded for achieving one of the nation’s best records in frozen-egg pregnancies.
“Elaborate social media videos, attractive financing packages and information sessions with free hors d’oeuvres can be persuasive for women considering egg freezing,” said Dr. Drew Moffitt, medical director of Arizona Reproductive Medicine Specialists (ARMS). “But many or perhaps most egg freezing agencies do not have data to back their claims.”
Moffitt’s clinic won the most recent Superior Outcomes in Egg Vitrification Freezing Practice Award by Donor Bank USA, a national network of fertility practices offering egg freezing. ARMS achieved the network’s highest rate of successful ongoing pregnancies from frozen eggs, 70 percent, for a 12-month period.
This National Infertility Awareness Week, April 21-27, 2019, Moffitt has set out to help educate women about often-excluded details of the procedure, such as needing in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to use the eggs.
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine officially categorized egg freezing as “experimental” until 2012, when vitrification or so-called “flash freezing” methods improved. However, because eggs have such a complex physical structure, successfully freezing and thawing without damage is still challenging and difficult to master, Moffitt said.
But start-up companies market egg freezing packages as affordable as monthly manicures. Moffitt says studies show such tactics often exaggerate the age-related decline in female fertility, offering egg freezing as a way to “stop time.”
“Egg freezing can increase the odds of successfully postponing pregnancy, but it is not an insurance policy,” he said. “Freezing a larger quantity of eggs boosts the odds. You only get out what you put in.”
Moffitt offered the following tips for women considering the option:
- Research carefully. Look for an IVF clinic with a high-quality lab staffed by experienced embryologists.
- Consider clinics belonging to donor egg banks. This helps ensure more experience and proven results from egg thawing.