Freezing my fertility
We often find women in late 30s and early 40s with depleting egg reserve and not willing to use donor eggs. They have delayed child bearing either because they have not found their partner or they were not ready to have kids while they were young. They often feel that they could have done something when they were young that could have helped them to have their biological child now.
The first birth from a frozen egg was reported way back in 1986. But for a long time it was considered research or experimental due to its limited success. Due to advanced technology and better survival rates of eggs to the newer freezing protocols this technique is now widely available and with higher success rates.
What is egg freezing
Egg or oocyte freezing is a process in which the eggs of a woman are extracted from the ovaries, frozen and stored to be used later. This helps the woman to preserve her fertility.
When to consider egg freezing
- Wish to preserve younger eggs now for use later, also known as social freezing. More and more women are getting married later in age or are married but not ready to yet have a child due to careers or work schedule. They can preserve their eggs when they are younger and use them later when they are ready to be a parent. The younger eggs are healthier and found to have a better success rates when used for IVF.
- FERTILITY PRESERVATION. As the incidence of cancer is increasing, fertility preservation is recommended. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments can harm fertility of both men and women. It is recommended to freeze the eggs and use them later when the treatment is complete. Freezing egg or sperm before start of treatment may help you to have a biological child later.
- Surgery for benign lesions such as endometriosis or benign tumors that may affect the ovaries.
- Risk of premature ovarian failure I chromosomal disorders such as turners syndrome or fragile X syndrome.
- BRCA mutations that may necessiate removal of ovaries as they are at increased risk of cancer.
- Certain conditions such as sickle cell anemia, autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroiditis can affect your fertility. Simple tests that can check your fertility such as AMH may guide you if you need to preserve your eggs before undergoing treatment for same.
- Before undergoing SRS surgery, you can choose to freeze your eggs which can later be used if the need be. But this is recommended after specific counseling only.
- Due to religious or ethical reasons certain people do not want freezing of embryos for them egg freezing is better option.
How does egg freezing work
The procedure is similar to an IVF. The fertility expert will assess your ovarian reserve. The ovaries are stimulated using injections and you are monitored using ultrasound. It may take upto 10 days for your eggs to be ready. When the blood test and ultrasound suggest the eggs are ready to be retrieved; you would take a trigger shot that matures the egg and after that the eggs are harvested. The eggs are retrieved transvaginally under anesthesia and this process usually takes 15 minutes. Allmature and healthy looking eggs are frozen or vitrified.
These eggs can be warmed later and used when the women is ready to conceive. As the age advances more number of eggs is needed to achieve a pregnancy. Usually at an age of 30 an egg count of 15 is considered sufficient. After the age of 40, egg freezing is usually not recommended as the egg count is reduced, the healthier eggs are less and the eggs may carry genetic abnormalities.
Many women now freeze their eggs, giving them the option to have children when they are ready and do not let the biological clock decide their fate. Egg freezing allows you to fulfill your professional and personal goals without you worrying about the biological clock ticking as most says.