“The biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other,” said Indira Nooyi, speaking on why women still can’t have it all. “Total, complete conflict.”
As more and more women make the choice to freeze their eggs, do they know exactly what they’re getting into?
Dr Kaushiki Dwivedee (Head Obstetrics and Gynaecology & Senior Consultant IVF,Artemis Hospital,Gurgaon) shares facts and insights to help you make the decision.
What is egg freezing ?
Human oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) is a process in which a woman’s eggs (oocytes) are extracted, frozen and stored. It is a fascinating improvement in assisted reproduction which can be helpful to women who wish to defer their pregnancy to a more advanced age due to social , medical or professional reasons.
Why egg freezing?
With increasing age of a woman the number of oocytes (eggs) available in the ovaries begin to decrease and after 35 years of age there is a very sharp fall in numbers. Also with age, the quality of the egg is not as healthy as it would be at an earlier age leading to failed IVF cycles as well as recurrent miscarriages and possibility of genetic defects in the baby.
How do egg freezing help?
The eggs of a woman, frozen at 30 years of age would be similar in quality even if she decides to get pregnant at 40 years of age. Thus the conception rate is higher with the frozen eggs than an IVF tried with fresh eggs at 40 years of age.
What does egg freezing involve?
After preliminary blood tests to ensure that the woman is fit enough for egg freezing,she is prescribed hormones to make her ovaries produce multiple eggs.The woman can inject these medicines herself and in the same cycle about 4 to5 visits are needed for ultrasound scans. Once the eggs are ready they are surgically harvested under a short general anaesthesia and by the process of vitrification (quick freezing) .For freezing the eggs,liquid Nitrogen is needed.
When the woman is ready to attempt pregnancy (this can be several years later) the eggs are thawed, injected with a single sperm to achieve fertilization, and transferred to the uterus as embryos. The freezing doesn’t hamper the fertilization or the conception rate.
How do they harvest eggs for vitro fertilization?
Egg retrieval procedure. A needle is passed through the top of the vagina under ultrasound guidance to get to the ovary and follicles. The fluid in the follicles is aspirated through the needle and the eggs detach from the follicle wall and are sucked out of the ovary
How many eggs should I store to achieve a pregnancy?
Based on preliminary data from medical study, egg thaw rates of 75% and fertilization rates of 75% are anticipated in women up to 38 years of age. Thus, if 10 eggs are frozen, 7 are expected to survive the thaw, and 5 to 6 are expected to fertilize and become embryos. Usually 3-4 embryos are transferred in women up to 38 years of age. Therefore,it is recommend that 10 eggs be stored for each pregnancy attempt. Most women 38 years of age and under can expect to harvest 10- 20 eggs per cycle.
Who should consider egg freezing?
In todays time when women in urban India are delaying their 1st Pregnancy until a later age due to professional aspirations or delayed marriages, a planned freezing of eggs can provide healthy eggs to these women when they are ultimately ready for conception.
At times young patients need chemotherapy or radiotherapy due to cancer.These medicines have side effects and impact on the eggs.Therefore, it is advisable to store your eggs before they have been exposed to these toxic medication for further use when they have recovered.
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