If you want to have a child in the future but are not mentally prepared to conceive right now, then egg freezing may help you keep the options open and become pregnant in the future – once you are ready to start a family.
A woman is most fertile in her 20s and early 30s because this is the time when her ovaries contain many healthy eggs. As the female ages, the quality and quantity of her eggs deteriorate. For the 10 to 15 years before menopause, despite having a regular menstrual cycle, an ovarian function might drop. This is especially so for women in their 40s who are unlikely to produce a healthy pregnancy.
What is Egg Freezing?
Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) is a technique whereby eggs are frozen soon after being collected. To collect and freeze eggs, a woman will go through ovarian stimulation. The process of Ovarian stimulation involves hormone medications that are undertaken for approximately 10-12 days which assist to stimulate your ovaries. The fertility specialist will explain the best treatment and medication plan for your case.
Commonly, hormone medication involves giving yourself an injection with a small needle under the skin. Do not be afraid, this is nothing to worry about, and your fertility nurse is available to help throughout your treatment. Whilst you are undertaking ovarian stimulation, you will be monitored with blood tests and ultrasounds.
During a normal cycle in a woman’s body, only 1 egg will mature and be released per cycle (ovulation). Ovarian stimulation helps several of the eggs to mature and once matured, they can be collected.
When your eggs are ready to be collected, you will be asked to go to the hospital for the day procedure where the eggs will be collected from your ovaries. You will have sedation administered by an Anaesthetist. The egg collection (or ‘egg pick up’) procedure takes about 20-30 minutes and you will be asleep during that time. You can opt for your egg to pick up under local anaesthetic upon request.
By the means of advanced ultrasound technology, a Fertility specialist guides a needle into each ovary (eggs are contained in the fluid within the follicles in your ovaries and invisible to the naked eye). The specialist will extract the fluid from the sacs that look like they have grown enough to have an egg inside. Before retrieval, your ultrasound gives a good indication of the number of eggs available for collection, the average number of eggs collected is 8-15.
Your collected eggs will be passed straight on to scientists, scientists will distinguish which eggs are mature enough to be kept, immature eggs do not generate successful pregnancies. Those mature eggs are then frozen via vitrification.
Recovery takes about 30 minutes and you will be able to walk out on your own. However, as with all sedation, you will not be able to drive after the procedure for 24 hours thus bringing a support person with you is recommended.
Using Your Eggs
Frozen eggs can be kept for as long as you wish. When you are ready to use your frozen eggs, contact your fertility specialist to discuss the best plan for you.
When your eggs are ready to be used, they will be thawed by warming quickly to 37 degrees Celsius. Once at 37 degrees, the eggs are ready for insemination by ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) a process whereby a single sperm is injected into the egg. Once the sperm has fertilised the egg, the egg develops into an embryo, and a transfer may occur. Unfortunately, not all eggs will fertilise and reach the embryo stage.
Egg Freezing Success Rates
Specialists explained, as 100% success is not assured, you would want to know your chances of success. Before you go ahead and decide to freeze your eggs, you should know the general success rate and that of the specific IVF centre you are visiting.
Some aspects come into play here. Primarily, egg freezing is a relatively new technology. This means there isn’t a large amount of data available on babies born after egg thawing. Also, the available data does not necessarily connect to your own country. Actually, as this technology is new so there isn’t enough data about any birth defects among babies born after freezing of eggs. The unavailability of long-term statistics makes it difficult to calculate the egg freezing success rates for the procedure.
From the women ‘respective, the most crucial information is regarding the efficacious pregnancy and live birth achieved after thawing of eggs. All-female are concerned about knowing the potential of the frozen eggs to produce a new-born. It means how an egg recovers after thawing and produces an embryo. The miscarriage rates also need to be considered as it is a common occurrence among older women.
In a nutshell, freezing of eggs is an excellent option of fertility preservation in women. There are factors to consider and you should do the necessary research on your behalf as well. You need to know whether it is right for you to use the option or not. You should weigh in the pros and cons of the procedure, before taking any decision.
Consult fertility expert, Dr. (Col.) Pankaj Talwar at the Fertility Department, CK Birla Hospital in Gurgaon to discuss more the egg freezing success rate and the pros and cons of the procedure. Book your appointment today!