5 things you need to know about Egg Freezing

A potentially life altering surgical procedure, egg freezing is not as simple as it sounds.

As it is becoming a thing of interest to many Indian women, it is time that we speak of it with more clarity.

There is a social stigma associated with uncommon methods of conception in our world but for women who want to pursue their careers uninterrupted, it can be an empowering option.

So if you want to halt your biological clock for your own reasons, then you must know about the possible outcomes of this procedure.

Not all the eggs you freeze are going to be viable

You can’t just freeze and forget as it is not a sure shot way of guaranteed fertility. No one can tell how many eggs are going to survive the warming process. It largely depends on how old you were when you froze your eggs. So unless you can take this decision as early as in your 20’s (healthier eggs = better chance) you can’t be really sure!

The process can be overwhelming

First, you’ll have blood drawn to evaluate your ovarian reserve and screen for infectious diseases. You might also have an ultrasound done to see what’s up with your overall ovarian function. Then you’ll take synthetic hormones that stimulate your ovaries to grow a cohort of follicles and, at the same time, medicine to prevent you from ovulating before egg retrieval (also called “egg harvesting”).

After an ultrasound has confirmed your follicles are ready for egg retrieval, you’ll give yourself injectable human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to help with egg maturation. The retrieval itself happens in a doctor’s office, along with a transvaginal ultrasound aspiration.

An ultrasound probe is inserted into your vagina to locate the mature follicles. Then your doctor will insert a long, hollow needle through the vaginal canal to the ovaries, then apply suction to remove the eggs one by one.

You can remove multiple eggs at a time, which is ideal since it gives you the best chances of getting a healthy, mature egg that can be fertilized. After the eggs are retrieved (which usually takes under 30 minutes), they’re flash frozen in liquid nitrogen as part of a process called vitrification. Vitrification by liquid nitrogen dramatically increases the survival rate of eggs versus older technology, which now goes by “slow freezing.” A 2009 study revealed that eggs frozen via vitrification had a 91% survival rate versus eggs that were frozen slowly (though almost no clinics use slow freezing anymore), which had a 61% survival rate.

Possible side effects (highly possible)

  • Cramping and pain
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Bloating
  • An increased risk of blood cancer due to the intense amount of hormones that are injected.

An expensive affair

Affordability can be a concern, usually upwards of several lakhs. This includes testing, monitoring, medications and egg freezing, as well as an annual storage fee. There are additional fees for the egg thaw, fertilization and embryo transfer procedure Measures to make this process more accessible may be key to widespread adoption.

Moreover, if you require an IVF there will be an added cost!

The success of a live baby being born from a frozen egg is a mere 2-12%, according to American Society For Reproductive Medicine.

Ever since Apple and Facebook offered to pay for the procedure of extraction and freezing of eggs for their female employees, the ethics and viability of this option has been hotly debated.

So before you dive in into this intensive and exhausting procedure with no sure fire success, think wisely whether it’s good to be empowered but with regret later in life!

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