While this approach has not yet been as effective for preserving eggs or ovarian tissue, researchers see advances in that area paving the way to more widespread use of that approach to in effect pause the biological clock for women who find their reproductive fitness declining over time.
For example, by the time a woman reaches her 40s, only one in 10 of her eggs is likely to develop into a baby, compared to the two out of three that would have developed in her 20s. The hope is that freezing a woman's eggs or ovarian tissue will give older women a better chance of having a family.
"This would hopefully lock in her pregnancy rate as someone who is 25 years old instead of someone who is 45 years old," says Gibbons.
Other research has supported this hope by finding that while women find the viability of their own eggs declining, the age of a woman who receives a fertilized embryo matters much less.