What is egg freezing? How can it help with IVF?
Egg freezing, or cryopreservation of mature oocytes, is a technique used to preserve women’s fertility for the future.
Your ova are removed, and the eggs are frozen without fertilisation. After being thawed, a frozen egg can be fertilised with sperm in a lab and placed into a woman’s uterus to start a family (in vitro fertilisation).
To determine if egg freezing is the best option for you based on your individual needs and reproductive history, your fertility doctor can explain the process, any dangers involved, and whether it is safe.
Reasons behind doing it
If you’re not ready to start a family but want to increase your chances of becoming pregnant, egg freezing may be something to consider.
Since the eggs aren’t fertilized before being frozen, sperm isn’t needed for egg freezing, unlike embryo cryopreservation, which involves freezing fertilized eggs. However, like embryo freezing, you’ll need to take fertility medicines to induce ovulation and increase your egg supply.
Egg freezing is an option to consider if you:
You are dealing with a situation or condition that may impact your fertility. Sickle cell anemia, lupus, and transgender identity are all examples of such conditions.
You need cancer treatment or treatment for another disease that may hinder your pregnancy. Some medical procedures and treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy can negatively impact infertility. It’s possible that egg freezing before treatment will allow you to have biological children in the future.
You’re having IVF done right now. However, for moral or philosophical reasons, some in vitro fertilization patients store their eggs rather than their embryos in liquid nitrogen.
You want to save the youngest eggs possible for the future. There’s a chance that freezing your eggs when you’re younger will make it easier to conceive later on.
How do you get ready for egg freezing?
Find a reproductive clinic specializing in egg freezing if you’re thinking about doing it. Reproductive endocrinologists are the most prevalent title for these specialists.
Data on pregnancies achieved through frozen eggs are scarce, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology give online information about pregnancy and live birth rates in U.S. fertility clinics. However, remember that several variables affect a clinic’s success rate, including the average age of the women it serves.
If the cost of egg freezing is a deterrent, you should inquire about the personal expenses of each stage of the process and the annual storage fees.
There are a few preliminary blood tests that will be performed before you begin the egg-freezing process, including:
Obstetrical ultrasound for ovarian reserve, Your fertility doctor may check the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol in your blood on day three of your menstrual cycle to figure out how many eggs you have and how good they are.
- Findings can be used to gauge the likelihood of a positive response from the ovaries when taking reproductive drugs.
- To acquire a fuller picture of ovarian function, another blood test and an ultrasound of the ovaries could be used.
- Evaluation for contagious illness. HIV and hepatitis B and C will be checked for and other infectious diseases.
What you can expect
Egg freezing involves ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, and freezing.
Synthetic hormones will induce your ovaries to produce many eggs instead of one monthly. Possible medications:
- Ovarian stimulants. Inject follitropin alfa or beta (Follistim AQ, Gonal-f) or menotropins (Menopur).
- Anti-ovulation drugs. Leuproline acetate (Lupron Depot) or cetrorelix may be prescribed by your fertility doctor (Cetrotide).
- Your fertility doctor will supervise treatment. Ovarian-stimulation blood tests will assess your reaction. As follicles mature, estrogen levels rise, and progesterone levels drop until ovulation.
- To monitor the growth of fluid-filled sacs where eggs mature, follow-up appointments will include vaginal ultrasonography, which uses sound waves to create an image of your ovaries (follicles).
- After 10 to 14 days, human chorionic gonadotropin (Pregnyl, Ovidrel) or another medicine can help the eggs mature.
Sedation is used during egg retrieval, which takes place at a medical facility or fertility doctor’s office. In transvaginal ultrasound aspiration, an ultrasound probe is placed into the vagina to locate the follicles, and a small sample of fluid is taken from within them.
After that, a follicular needle is inserted vaginally. Finally, a suction device is attached to the hand to extract the egg from its follicle. It is possible to retrieve up to fifteen eggs in a single cycle, which has been shown to increase pregnancy success rates.
Cramps are possible after egg removal. If your ovaries stay enlarged, the sensation of fullness or pressure could last for weeks.
Your unfertilized eggs will be cooled to cryogenic temperatures as soon as they are collected. Because of its different composition from a fertilized egg, an unfertilized egg is trickier to freeze and has resulted in a healthy pregnancy (embryo).
Vitrification is the standard method for egg freezing. Cryoprotectants, compounds used in high enough concentrations to inhibit the formation of ice crystals during freezing, are often employed in conjunction with rapid cooling.