Storage of cells and tissue

Postpone motherhood?

If you can feel the clock ticking but you want to postpone motherhood, AGE banking may be a solution. This is also known as social freezing

During your ART treatment or before you start treatment, it may be necessary to freeze and store reproductive cells or tissue. UZ Brussel's tissue bank where we store reproductive human tissue is called the CRG's MLM bank.

To freeze any tissues, a contract must be signed at all times. In this contract:
  • you give your consent to freeze and store tissue;
  • you determine the storage period;
  • you decide what needs to be done with the stored material on termination of the storage period or when you don't need it anymore; and
  • (if applicable) you undertake to pay a storage cost for the period of storage.
These decisions can be revoked at all times, as long as you do this in writing before the end of the storage period.

Collection and frozen storage of eggs for postponed use

Egg retrieval for postponed use: AGE banking or social freezing?

The CRG prefers to talk about AGE banking rather than social (egg) freezing.
AGE stands for Anticipation of Gamete Exhaustion and (very precisely) refers to the purpose of the intervention: you want to freeze your eggs (gametes) before they are exhausted.
However, the word AGE also stands for the most important female factor in terms of fertility: your age.
Nevertheless, the less accurate term social freezing is pretty much established, which is why we also use it sometimes.
In the contract you concluded with the CRG, the procedure you will have for AGE banking is called ‘egg retrieval for postponed use’.

What does the treatment imply? 
Is AGE banking possible at any age?  
Is AGE banking safe?
How much does the treatment cost?  

Men are able to create new sperm until very late in life. Women on the other hand are born with a specific number of eggs, the number of which only decreases with the years. No new ones are created. Furthermore, with age the quality of the remaining supply diminishes, particularly by the relative increase in the number of eggs with a chromosomal abnormality. See also A woman's age .
But even if you are aware of this biological clock, you may still have good reason to want to postpone motherhood. The frozen storage of eggs can help you to ensure you can have children in the future with your genetic material.

What does the treatment imply?   

  • Contact the  CRG Contact Centre and make an appointment. 
  • You have a consultation with a CRG doctor and a CRG psychologist.
    They will examine you, evaluate your application and provide all the necessary information, so that you can make a sound decision. 
  • If you have decided on AGE banking, your treatment is like an IVF cycle until the egg retrieval (included). 
    • You will have a talk with a counsellor, who will guide you.
    • A start date is agreed and your treatment is planned. 
    • You follow hormonal treatmen to stimulate your ovaries to ripen several eggs at the same time. 
    • We follow the evolution of hormonal stimulation via blood samples and ultrasound scans. You will receive daily instruction from the DM as to medicine dosage and administration. 
    • When the hormonal stimulation is completed, you will have an egg retrieval to collect the eggs. 
  • In the lab the ripe eggs are immediately frozen and stored, i.e. frozen by vitrification and stored in the egg bank.

Is AGE banking possible at any age?  

The considerable influence of your age on your fertility also applies for AGE banking. The chances of a child after fertilisation of thawed eggs is greater if you are younger when your eggs are collected and frozen.
  • At UZ Brussel CRG, eggs can be frozen up to the age of 40, i.e. the day before your 40th birthday. 
    But from the age of 36 (age of frozen storage) the chances of a child reduce considerably. 
  • Frozen eggs can be stored for ten years or until you are 48 years old, i.e. till the day before your 48th birthday. 
  • There are no indications that your age at the time the eggs are thawed and fertilised – with the sperm of your partner or a donor – affect the chances of success of your treatment.
    But with getting older and certainly after the age of 40, the chances of pregnancy complications increase. This includes pregnancy hypertension (high blood pressure) and pre-eclampsia. . 

Is AGE banking safe? 

The frozen storage of eggs has become possible since the introduction of the vitrification technique (‘flash freezing’). This technique has already been applied for ten years and has outgrown the experimental stage.
It is a fact that on average 20 to 25% of the eggs do not survive the thawing process after frozen storage. However, investigation into the safety of egg vitrification has shown reassuring results, also and chiefly concerning the effect on the health of children born from fertilised eggs that were frozen.

How much does the treatment cost? 

Do you want to know more?

For more information about the (costs of the) treatment or for an appointment, please contact the CRG Contact Center, by telephone or e- mail.

The treatment for AGE banking is in fact a two-stage process.
  • First there is the hormone treatment followed by egg retrieval and the frozen storage of the ripe eggs for maximum ten years or to the day before your 48th birthday.
    For this the CRG charges a fixed amount. which is all for your account, even if you have Belgian health insurance.
  • If at a later stage you decide to undergo ART treatment, the eggs are thawed and fertilised in the laboratory.
    • At his stage the IVF laboratory costs of a patient with Belgian health insurance are reimbursed, provided you are younger than 43. This means the fertilisation of the eggs has to take place the day before your 43th birthday at te latest. 
    • If you are not entitled (any more) to reimbursement, the second part of the treatment is for your account.