Predicting the likelihood of live birth for elective oocyte cryopreservation: a counseling tool for physicians and patients

Hum Reprod. 2017 Apr 1;32(4):853-859. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dex008.


Study question: Can a counseling tool be developed for women desiring elective oocyte cryopreservation to predict the likelihood of live birth based on age and number of oocytes frozen?

Summary answer: Using data from ICSI cycles of a population of women with uncompromised ovarian reserve, an evidence-based counseling tool was created to guide women and their physicians regarding the number of oocytes needed to freeze for future family-building goals.

What is known already: Elective oocyte cryopreservation is increasing in popularity as more women delay family building. By undertaking elective oocyte freezing at a younger age, women hope to optimize their likelihood of successful live birth(s) using their thawed oocytes at a future date. Questions often arise in clinical practice regarding the number of cryopreserved oocytes sufficient to achieve live birth(s) and whether or not additional stimulation cycles are likely to result in a meaningful increase in the likelihood of live birth. As relatively few women who have electively cryopreserved oocytes have returned to use them, available data for counseling patients wishing to undergo fertility preservation are limited.

Study design, size, duration: A model was developed to determine the proportion of mature oocytes that fertilize and then form blastocysts as a function of age, using women with presumably normal ovarian reserve based on standard testing who underwent ICSI cycles in our program from January, 2011 through March, 2015 (n = 520). These included couples diagnosed exclusively with male-factor and/or tubal-factor infertility, as well as cycles utilizing egg donation. Age-specific probabilities of euploidy were estimated from 14 500 PGS embryo results from an external testing laboratory. Assuming survival of thawed oocytes at 95% for women <36 y and for egg donors, and 85% for women ≥36 y, and 60% live birth rate per transferred euploid blastocyst, probabilities of having at least one, two or three live birth(s) were calculated.

Participants/materials, setting, method: First fresh male-factor and/or tubal-factor only autologous ICSI cycles (n = 466) were analyzed using Poisson regression to calculate the probability that a mature oocyte will become a blastocyst based on age. Egg donation cycles (n = 54) were analyzed and incorporated into the model separately. The proportion of blastocysts expected to be euploid was determined using PGS results of embryos analyzed via array comparative genomic hybridization. A counseling tool was developed to predict the likelihood of live birth, based on individual patient age and number of mature oocytes.

Main results and the role of chance: This study provides an evidence-based model to predict the probability of a woman having at least one, two or three live birth(s) based on her age at egg retrieval and the number of mature oocytes frozen. The model is derived from a surrogate population of ICSI patients with uncompromised ovarian reserve. A user-friendly counseling tool was designed using the model to help guide physicians and patients.

Limitations, reasons for caution: The data used to develop the prediction model are, of necessity, retrospective and not based on patients who have returned to use their cryopreserved oocytes. The assumptions used to create the model, albeit reasonable and data-driven, vary by study and will likely vary by center. Centers are therefore encouraged to consider their own blastocyst formation and thaw survival rates when counseling patients.

Limitations, reasons for caution: Our model will provide a counseling resource that may help inform women desiring elective fertility preservation regarding their likelihood of live birth(s), how many cycles to undergo, and when additional cycles would bring diminishing returns.

Study funding/competing interests: None.

Trial registration number: Not applicable.

Keywords: blastocyst euploidy; blastocyst formation; egg thaw; elective egg freezing; family building; fertility preservation; oocyte cryopreservation; prediction model.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling*
  • Cryopreservation
  • Female
  • Fertility Preservation
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Live Birth*
  • Oocyte Retrieval
  • Ovarian Reserve
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic