Mature Oocyte preservation or Egg Freezing is the method used to save a woman’s eggs to be able to get pregnant for future times. Eggs harvested from the ovaries are preserved unfertilized by deep-freezing the same. It can then be used in the process of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) whenever required and combined with the sperm in the lab and implanted in the uterus at a later stage. There could be a lot of reasons why people choose egg freezing. Ill-health and subsequent treatments that can alter the quality of eggs (such as cancer or an auto-immune disease), any other surgeries that can damage the ovaries, ovarian diseases, or simply the wish to get pregnant at a later stage in life due to personal reasons, etc. Whatever the reason, it is also important to understand the process, preparations required, potential risks, cost factor, post-procedure, results, etc to make an informed decision.
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Process of Egg Freezing
Egg Freezing is usually done in 3 stages.
- Stage one consists of ovarian stimulation where synthetic hormones/ medications are ingested to stimulate the ovaries into producing multiple eggs than a single egg that develops monthly. With regular monitoring, blood tests, ultrasounds, the levels of estrogen that help the follicle (fluid-filled sacs where the eggs mature) develop, is monitored for about 10 to 14 days.
- Once the eggs are matured, Egg Retrieval is performed under sedation or anesthesia. The most common method used is the Transvaginal Ultrasound Aspiration where ultrasound is performed to assess the follicles. A needle with a suction device at the end is inserted through the vagina into the follicle. The suction device enables the removal of eggs, up to 15 per cycle.
- The last stage is Freezing. The harvested eggs are cooled to subzero temperatures, up to -196 degrees (which slows the maturation of the eggs) to preserve them for further use. Several methods of freezing are employed depending on the situation. These are known as Cryoprotectants (to prevent the formation of intracellular harmful ice crystals due to deep freezing), Slow-freezing technique (programmable freezers that freeze the eggs slowly) and Vitrification (most recent and popular technique). When required, the eggs are thawed, fertilized with a sperm in the laboratory and implanted into the uterus
Factors and Risks
The chances of a successful pregnancy through egg freezing is seen to be around 30-60%. Several processes are adopted to assess the success rates of freezing including simple blood tests and ultrasound. Ovarian Reserve Testing is used to test the concentration of follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol in the blood on the 3rd day of the menstrual cycle that helps predict how the ovaries will react to the treatment. The success rate of pregnancy is clearly dependent on the age at which the eggs have been preserved and mostly not recommended for women above the age of 38 years. Miscarriages are said to be higher among older women mainly due to having older eggs. It is also a known factor that the fertilized egg is easier to preserve; however, an unfertilized egg, though difficult to preserve, has higher rates of a successful pregnancy.
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Cost of Treatment
The expenses of Egg Freezing per se tends to be on the higher range. The process is also coupled with additional costs of annual storage fees and depending on the number of years that a person wants the eggs stored, the expenses might grow on. In some cases, eggs have been stored for up to 15 years.
Visiting an expert fertility clinic with a good success rate should not result in debilitating side-effects or life-threatening conditions post the required procedure. The procedures normally do not cause bleeding, infection, or damage to blood vessels or bladder, or the bowel and are seen in very rare cases. Reports of people suffering from slight weight gain, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea is quite normal. Instances of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome or swollen and painful ovaries have also been reported due to injectable fertility drugs after the eggs have been retrieved. However, this subsides with post-procedure care. The only unforeseen effects could be the psychological effects of anxiety with success rates of pregnancy in the future.
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It is therefore important that such procedures are performed by experts and a team of caring staff in a fertility clinic like the Janisthaa Fertility Clinic at Basaveshwarnagar, Bengaluru. The clinic has a dedicated team of top-notch doctors who have record success rates. Moreover, treatments provided are 100% personalized, patient-centric with state of the art research and IVF facilities. For more information, visit the website http://jnaistha.local/ or call +91 7619198082 to book online consultation or to clarify more information.