Women today are looking to expand their child bearing years. More and more women want to focus on their careers and want to conceive at a later stage but as women age, it becomes more and more difficult to conceive with an increase in chromosomal abnormalities, miscarriages, birth defects etc. Women are looking at multiple options to decrease these defects and egg freezing has become a very attractive alternative.
What is Egg Freezing:
Egg Freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation is a technique where eggs are extracted and cooled to sub zero temperatures and stored for future use. A sperm is not required in this procedure as eggs are frozen before they are fertilised.
When is this done :
- If the woman will undergo chemotherapy/radiation therapy to treat cancer.
- Due to a condition that can affect fertility such as sickle cell anemia, autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
- If undergoing a surgery that can damage ovaries.
- Due to a risk of premature ovarian failure due to chromosomal abnormalities.
- Due to the presence of early menopause in family history.
- Preserving eggs for social or personal reasons.
How is this procedure done :
The fertility specialist first performs a number of tests to assess ovarian reserve and understand the yield of eggs before the ovaries are simulated. This is done through blood tests , ultrasound etc. This will help decide the dosage of medication required.
Once the tests are done the ovaries are simulated. This is done through injecting hormones that will help produce multiple eggs to freeze. During the treatment the patient is closely monitored to understand the response to the stimulation medications. Vaginal ultrasounds are also conducted to monitor the development of the fluid-filled sacs where eggs mature.
When the eggs are mature – generally after 10 to 14days- the eggs are retrieved with the help of a suction device connected to a needle.
Once the eggs are retrieved, their maturity is tested and the completely mature eggs are cooled at sub-zero temperatures to preserve for future use.
When needed, the frozen eggs are thawed, fertilized with a sperm in a lab and inserted in the carrier’s uterus.
The chances of becoming pregnant after implantation is dependant on the age of the patient at the time of egg freezing. The older the age at the time of freezing, lower the chances of birth in future.