All French women can now freeze their eggs: here are the rules

Since September 29, the new law on bioethics has officially entered into force. In addition to the extension of medically assisted procreation (MAP) to all women, this text also updates the provisions on egg freezing. We take stock.

Oocyte freezing is a technique that preserves a woman’s fertility and suspends her biological clock for a while. Indeed, the procreation capacity with frozen oocytes will be (almost) the same as with unfrozen oocytes. Until now, a woman could not have recourse in France to the freezing of her own oocytes, except medical necessity.

Why ?

Freezing eggs for a woman is a way to stop, at least temporarily, the ticking of the biological clock. This is the case for Aurélie Doré, who testifies at the microphone of TF1. “I am quite convinced that I want to start a family, to have children. Except that I have not yet met the right person. So I tell myself that if I can freeze these oocytes a little in time. , those of my 33 years, that puts all the chances on my side “, underlines the thirty-something.

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How old ?

With the new provisions, all women between the ages of 29 and 37 can now freeze their eggs without medical reason. However, it is advisable to do this before the age of 35 because the ovarian reserve and the quality of the oocyte decrease with age. “The chances of pregnancy depend mainly on the age at which the oocytes were collected, at best before age 35”, specifies the National Academy of Medicine in a 2017 report. “For the normal, physiological case, we will be very fertile up to 32-33 years old. But from 35 years old, there is a drop in fertility”, confirms Prof. Nelly Achour-Frydman, reproductive biologist at Antoine Béclère hospital (AP-HP).

What process?

Freezing eggs is not trivial and requires a precise medical procedure. In practice, oocyte freezing goes through three stages:

– The first appointment allows to study the patient’s situation, the chances of success of the sample as well as its possible risks. A battery of tests is performed, from blood tests to gynecological tests including ultrasound.

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– Ovarian stimulation can then begin, via daily subcutaneous injections for 9 to 10 days. The aim is to boost the production and maturation of oocytes.

– Finally comes the puncture of the ovaries, performed in the operating room and under local or general anesthesia.

How are oocytes stored?

After extracting the ovaries, the teams must go as quickly as possible because, outside the human body, these cells become very fragile. They are very sensitive to light and to the outside temperature.

First, they are locked in boxes maintained at a temperature of 37 ° and containing the culture medium. The objective is then to collect as much as possible. In the process, the precious eggs are enclosed in tubes called “glitter”. These are then sealed and then immersed in a tank of liquid nitrogen at -196 °. “It is a temperature where the cell metabolism stops. This is how we will be able to keep the oocyte as long as we want”, explains Laeticia Hesters, biologist in the reproduction laboratory (Cecos) at Antoine Béclère hospital.

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What cost?

The device is fully reimbursed by social security. Only the costs of storage in the tank will be invoiced, ie 45 euros per year.

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