The growth of technology has touched into all spheres of lives. Not so surprisingly, the role of technology and advancement in medication and treatment techniques are now touching into planning and managing a women’s reproductive and pregnancy related issues. One such advancement that is making a lot of waves in the heath-care space is the concept of ‘Egg Freezing’. A combination of several reasons are prompting women to freeze their eggs. With the process of Egg Freezing, a woman can make an appropriate decision of when to embrace motherhood.
If you are someone who is considering the process of Egg Freezing, or if you are simply someone who would like to understand the dynamics of the technique, read on to find out more!
What is Egg Freezing?
Egg Freezing is an advanced medical process by which women can preserve their mature eggs. The process is known as ‘Oocyte Cryopreservation’ in medical terms and is often seen as a means to preserve a woman’s ability to get pregnant in the future. The process involves a careful harvesting of mature and unfertilized eggs from a woman’s ovaries and is stored in conducive environment for fertilization at a later point. The frozen egg is then medically thawed and is combined in a lab with a viable sperm and is implanted into the woman’s uterus through In-Vitro Fertilization. The process needs to be supervised through trained medical professionals and the medical process and procedures need to be followed in a guided manner. While it is a safe and helpful process, appropriate levels of medical care and supervision is required.
Why do women freeze eggs?
Egg Freezing has become a commonly used procedure. The process is safe and is incredibly helpful for women who are planning for pregnancy at a later point in time. The process, however, needs to be routed through fertility drugs to ensure that the ovulation is appropriate. Fertility drugs ensure that the number of eggs that are produced are appropriate for retrieval later. There are several reasons why women choose to freeze eggs. Some might be due to health issues, some might be due to issue relating to their partners, while some might choose it for personal reasons. Here are some examples to give context of cases which might be helpful for Egg Freezing.
- A woman undergoing any medical treatment: If for example a woman is undergoing a treatment, say for cancer, it might be appropriate to freeze her eggs. Treatment such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy may have a bearing on a woman’s fertility. In such cases, before the onset of the treatment process, the woman can choose to freeze her eggs, which will enable her to bear a biological child in the future.
- An IVF patient whose partner is unable produce sperms: In such a case where a woman is undergoing In-Vitro Fertilization, and on the day of the retrieval, if the woman’s partner is unable to produce the appropriate amount of sperm, the woman can choose to freeze her eggs.
Some women may also choose to freeze their eggs for personal reasons and might want to postpone motherhood. Freezing eggs might also be adopted when women anticipate any age-related infertility problems.
How to prepare for Egg Freezing?
Since the process is undertaken by medical professionals, there are layers of screening which are done to ensure that the woman is fit for the process. Some of the medical screenings include:
- Ovarian Reserve Testing: This test serves as the precursor to the process. The test helps in determining the quality and the quantity of the eggs that are being produced by the woman. The test helps in determining and predicting the appropriate fertility drugs that needs to be administered to the woman to commence the Egg Freezing process.
- General Screening: Apart from screening the ovaries, a general screening is also undertaking. The screening will help understand if the woman is attached to any infectious diseases. If the doctors find any vulnerability of eggs with the potential of being infected, such eggs are stored separately.
How long can the eggs be frozen?
The eggs are put in a conducive environment to keep them viable. While there is no specific limit on the time, it has been proven that eggs stored over 5-10 years have also borne babies. With the combination of right incubation and appropriate thawing, the success rates of egg freezing have also been noticed after 14 years. There is no reduction in the effectiveness of the egg freezing process as time rolls. However, the effectiveness is largely dependent on the quality of the eggs, the appropriateness of the freezing conditions, the maintenance offered.
What after Egg Freezing?
When the woman wants to retrieve the frozen egg, the eggs will be thawed and will be fertilized in a lab environment. The fertilized egg will them be implanted into the woman’s body. In most cases, a carefully monitored procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICJ), which involves injecting a single healthy sperm into each of the matured egg is done. The probability of getting pregnant after implantation is subject to a host of factors including the age of the woman, the health conditions of the woman, the condition, and the viability of the egg. In normal case scenario, a woman can resume the normal course of activity within a week of egg retrieval and egg implantation.
While the concept of Egg Freezing is common and widely prevalent these days, it is advisable to consult the right medical supervisor before commencing the process. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog where we will explain the Egg Freezing process in detail.