Pregnancy is a natural process, but for many couples, it becomes hard to conceive for various reasons like late marriage, chronic disease etc. Hence for most couples, egg freezing has become a ray of hope to attain pregnancy even later in life. Egg freezing, or what you can call fertility preservation, is an intense and overwhelming process; if you want to know about it in detail then this blog is for you.
What is egg freezing?
Women are born with around 1 million eggs, which keep decreasing with age. Oocyte cryopreservation is a technical name for egg freezing, in which eggs are harvested, freeze and stored to attain pregnancy later on.
In the egg-freezing process, medications are given to patients to stimulate ovaries for the growth of various follicles (follicles are fluid-filled bags, that contains eggs). After follicles attain a specific size, your fertility specialist will retrieve eggs and freeze them. The whole process takes around two weeks.
Egg freezing treatment
Firstly, your doctor will conduct a blood test to know the egg supply in your body. They might suggest an ultrasound to see the number of follicles and ensure that ovaries can be easily reached during egg retrieval.
Some doctors may suggest taking hormonal birth control before fertility medications to let all the follicles grow together at the same rate and size. Women who are willing for egg freezing will be given hormonal medications once or twice a day. These shots will be recommended for eight to ten days for follicles stimulation and growth.
The patient must visit the doctor frequently to measure the follicles and estrogen levels. More prominent follicles have more chances of having matured eggs. Although a woman has thousands of eggs, they don’t respond to the medications. After a week of this process, patients are given medications to stop ovulation so that eggs are not released before they are retrieved. Once the follicles attain a specific size, the patient is given a ‘trigger shot’ to release eggs for retrieval. Through this process, only matured eggs are frozen.
The risk involved in egg freezing
Egg Retrieval and freezing have specific risks and side effects like any other medical procedure. Medications for ovary stimulation can increase the estrogen level to 10 to 20 times higher than the regular menstrual cycle. Hence patients can experience mood swings because of higher estrogen levels. They may also feel bloated as their ovaries are enlarged to grow multiple follicles.
If you have a history of blood clots, your doctor may recommend blood thinner and other medications. Bleeding and infection are risks involved during egg retrieval, but complications are not severe. Because of anaesthesia given during egg retrieval patient may experience nausea or vomiting.
Usually, egg freezing costs vary from clinic to clinic, but a single cycle will generally be between INR 150000-170000. Patients can become pregnant in one or two cycles.
Who can take advantage of egg freezing?
Women at a young age have higher chances of achieving success through egg freezing than women in older age. Hence if you want to freeze your egg, try to do it at a young age or as early as possible. The chances of becoming pregnant through frozen eggs lie between 2-12%. There are multiple factors which will affect your chances of conceiving.
The following are the reasons why you can go with egg freezing:
Career and educational plans:
Women who want to get advanced degrees or a demanding career can freeze their eggs at a young age to get healthy eggs later.
Women, who want to spend a long duration with their partner without any child, can freeze their eggs for future use. Same-sex women can also take advantage of egg freezing.
Chemotherapy and other cancer treatment may hamper your fertility. In the case of reproductive cancers, doctors need to remove ovaries. In such cases, the egg-freezing procedure work as a boon.
Factors to consider before egg freezing
There may be some side effects:
Every woman is different, and so are the side effects. You may feel bloating, moodiness, breast tenderness or cramping.
The expense of egg freezing:
Most fertility treatments are expensive, and egg freezing is not an exception. It would help to inquire about the overall cost before undergoing this process. You need to check with your insurance company about such coverage.
How egg freezing is different from embryo freezing
Egg freezing can be done early, even when you don’t have a partner. While embryo freezing requires your partner’s sperm, in which the eggs are fertilized with sperm and will undergo in-vitro fertilization before freezing.
Taking decisions regarding your fertility treatment is stressful for many couples. Many couples are opting for the egg-freezing process because of their career plans or chronic diseases. However, you must consult at a fertility treatment center or your doctor regarding this and know its success rate and other factors to attain pregnancy in your later stage of life.