With the advancements in the technology it is now possible to freeze a woman’s egg and preserve her fertility so that she can have a family later when she wants. In this process the woman’s eggs are collected followed by freezing and then thawing them later so that they can be used in fertility treatments. The reasons for freezing can be different; some do it for their medical condition whereas some choose this option as they are undergoing some medical treatment that is affecting their fertility. Egg freezing can also be opted by women who are not ready to have children and want to conceive in the future. It is known that a woman’s fertility decreases with the increase in age as the quality and quantity of eggs falls down. So the eggs are retrieved from woman at a younger age when they are of the highest order and used later at the time when they want to have pregnancy.
Egg Freezing process:
The process mainly consists of the following steps-
Consultation, diagnostic treatments and orientation: Before you decide to store your eggs you will be given a consultation from the healthcare team regarding the procedure. They will gather information about fertility and your overall health. You will further be diagnosed with a few tests including HIV and Hepatitis B and C and screened for infectious diseases.
Stimulation: To obtain eggs for freezing, a woman undergoes hormonal stimulation over 10-12 days which stimulates her ovaries to produce multiple eggs in one menstrual cycle (usually 10-15) which in the normal cycle is only one. Stimulation medications are administered through needles. The stimulation process makes the woman feel a little bloated but she can do all the normal activities until the process of retrieval.
Egg retrieval: The eggs are retrieved after the stimulation is done. The removal takes place from the ovaries using the ultrasound technique while the patient is sedated. The needle is inserted through the vaginal wall into the ovary and draws the egg.
Egg freezing: Also known as Vitrification the process takes place after retrieval. Each egg is dipped in a special fluid solution and then stored in liquid nitrogen for years depending upon the requirement. Only the viable and mature eggs are frozen which are capable of fertilization at later stages.
Who can benefit from Egg freezing?
- Women who are undergoing cancer treatments, chemotherapies and radiations can freeze eggs before the treatments and use them later to conceive.
- Women who have had early history of menopause can also freeze eggs as the loss of eggs accelerates.
- Women with severe endometriosis.
- Women who choose to postpone their pregnancy due to medical or personal reasons.
- Women who are undergoing or about to go for any surgical procedures are expected to lose ovarian functions.