Last updated date: 03-Mar-2023
Originally Written in English
Egg freezing is one method of maintaining a woman's fertility so that she can have children in the future. It entails collecting a woman's eggs, freezing them, and then thawing them later for use in fertility therapy.
A woman's chances of naturally conceiving decrease as she ages due to a decrease in the quality and amount of her eggs. Egg freezing is a method of preserving fertility by storing eggs while the lady is young and the eggs are of the greatest quality.
What is Egg Freezing?
Egg freezing is a technique for keeping a woman's unfertilized eggs in order to try to conceive at a later date when spontaneous conception is unlikely. It may be viewed as a means of protecting fertility for women who are unable to become pregnant right immediately or whose fertility is jeopardized due to medical reasons such as cancer treatment.
Frozen eggs may be kept for several years without degradation. When the lady is ready, her eggs are warmed before being fertilized with sperm. The goal is for the fertilized egg to grow into an embryo, which may subsequently be transferred to the woman's uterus, potentially resulting in pregnancy.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends freezing your eggs in your 20s and early 30s, when you have a bigger ovarian reserve (the quantity of eggs in your ovaries) and better eggs. Having your fertility hormones evaluated (for example, with Modern Fertility!) may tell you a lot about the condition of your ovarian reserve and help you determine if egg freezing is suitable for you, with the support of your doctor. However, egg freezing is not advised for persons over the age of 38.
Is egg freezing right for me?
Egg freezing may be a viable option for preserving your present fertility. If you have cancer that requires chemotherapy or radiation (all of which can impair fertility), need surgery that can harm your ovaries, or have a disease that can do the same. Knowing you have a family history of early menopause, Turner's Syndrome (a chromosomal abnormality associated with a risk of premature ovarian failure), or a genetic mutation (such as BRCA, which can predispose one to developing breast and ovarian cancer) and deciding to remove your ovaries may also be good reasons to consult with your doctor about whether or not egg freezing is right for you.
You might want to consider freezing your eggs if:
- You have a medical illness, such as cancer, or require treatment for a medical condition that will impair your fertility. Fertility can be preserved by freezing eggs, embryos, or a combination of the two.
- You're concerned about your fertility falling but aren't ready to have a kid or haven't met the ideal partner - this is commonly referred to as 'elective egg freezing.
- You are at danger of being injured or killed.
- For example, suppose you're a member of the armed forces being sent to a combat zone.
- If you are a female transitioning to a man, you should consider preserving your fertility before beginning hormone medication or undergoing reconstructive surgery. Both therapies have the potential to reduce or eliminate your fertility.
- You don't want any embryos that were not utilized following IVF therapy for ethical reasons.
What does egg freezing involve?
The egg retrieval procedure for oocyte cryopreservation is identical to that for IVF. This comprises hormone injections that last one to several weeks and encourage the ovaries to ripen numerous eggs. When the eggs are developed, final maturation inducement is conducted, ideally using a GnRH agonist rather than human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), because it reduces the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome while having no effect on the live birth rate (in contrast to fresh cycles where usage of GnRH agonist has a lower live birth rate). Transvaginal oocyte extraction is then used to retrieve the eggs from the body. Sedation is frequently used throughout the surgery. The eggs are quickly frozen.
The egg is the human body's biggest cell and contains a lot of water. When an egg freezes, the ice crystals that develop can damage the cell's integrity. To avoid this, the egg should be dehydrated before freezing. This is accomplished by the use of cryoprotectants, which replenish the majority of the water within the cell and block the production of ice crystals.
Eggs (oocytes) are frozen using either a slow-cooling controlled-rate approach or a newer flash-freezing method known as vitrification. Vitrification is more quicker, but requires larger cryoprotectant concentrations. Vitrification produces a solid glass-like cell devoid of ice crystals. Vitrification was invented and successfully used in IVF therapy, with the first live birth following oocyte vitrification occurring in 1999.
Vitrification prevents ice formation within and outside of oocytes during chilling, cryostorage, and warming. When administered to oocytes in metaphase II, vitrification is related with increased survival rates and improved development compared to gradual chilling (MII). Although prospective randomized controlled studies are still available, vitrification has been the method of choice for pronuclear oocytes.
The egg's zona pellucida, or shell, can be altered during the freezing process, inhibiting fertilization. When frozen eggs are thawed and pregnancy is desired, an embryologist will perform an Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) treatment in which sperm is injected directly into the egg with a needle rather than allowing sperm to enter spontaneously by putting it around the egg in a dish. In vitro maturation of immature oocytes has occurred, however it is not yet clinically available.
Elective oocyte cryopreservation
Elective oocyte cryopreservation, also known as social egg freezing, is the freezing of eggs for the goal of conserving fertility for later child-bearing when natural conception becomes more difficult. Since October 2012, when the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) removed the 'experimental' classification from the treatment, its use has progressively grown. In 2014, big firms Apple and Facebook announced that they will be offering egg freezing as a bonus to their female workers.
This revelation sparked debate because some women saw it as inspiring and realistic, while others saw it as damaging and alienating to women attempting to balance a successful long-term job and a family. A series of "egg freezing parties" staged by third-party firms has also contributed to the concept's popularity among young women. According to social science studies, women utilize elective egg freezing to separate their quest for a love partner from their ambitions to have children.
There are still warnings for women who use this technique to become pregnant at an older age, since the danger of pregnancy difficulties grows with age. However, research has revealed that the incidence of congenital defects in newborns born from frozen oocytes is no higher than in normally conceived babies.
How successful is egg freezing?
Egg freezing is a fast-expanding industry. If you opt to freeze your eggs, find a clinic with a lot of expertise and ask to examine their most current success rates for women your age.
When it comes to frozen eggs, the success rates are often pretty low. Because egg freezing technology has advanced over the years, earlier data is no longer applicable to current success rates. We urge patients to look at the success statistics for new IVF rounds with their own eggs in their age group. We believe these rates are more trustworthy since fresh embryo transfers are far more common than egg freezing.
How long can my eggs be stored for use in treatment?
If your eggs are not utilized immediately in therapy, you may want to keep them so that they might be used in the future. Eggs are frozen to be stored. You must consider how long in the future you might desire or be able to use saved eggs, as well as the possible expenses of storage. You should speak with your clinic about this.
The restrictions for storing eggs, sperm, or embryos changed on July 1, 2022. Prior to July 1, 2022, most people could only keep their eggs, sperm, or embryos for up to ten years. They could only save for up to 55 years if they had early infertility or were planning to get medical treatment that might impact their fertility.
The legislation now allows you to keep eggs, sperm, or embryos for therapeutic purposes for up to 55 years from the day the eggs, sperm, or embryos are originally placed in storage. However, in order for storage to continue legally, you must renew your consent every ten years. You must provide your consent on the appropriate consent form. Your clinic will contact you with pertinent information, and they should also make you an offer of counseling before you consent to the preservation of your eggs.
Your clinic will contact you and give you with the necessary permission paperwork at the proper time. It is consequently critical that you keep your clinic's contact information up to date, since you will be contacted. If your clinic is unable to reach you, your eggs may be removed from storage and discarded.
You are not required to match the term of storage to any contract in order to pay for storage. However, if you fail to pay for storage as arranged, the clinic may be able to dispose of your eggs. When you kept your eggs, your clinic should have properly stated this to you.
There can be side effects
Everyone's bodies are unique (write this down and keep it someplace you can see it all the time), but suffering the following symptoms after egg freezing is quite normal and will subside with time:
- Cramping and pain from the egg retrieval procedure
- Mood swings as the result of all those hormones
You may wish to plan ahead of time for the day of the egg retrieval, but you should be able to return to work and resume normal activities within a week. Avoid making any life-altering decisions just after retrieval (you know, other than the one you just made to freeze your eggs). As a warning, it is possible to become pregnant after the surgery since there may be some eggs that were not recovered, so avoid unprotected intercourse with a partner who has sperm.
The following symptoms should be avoided because they may be signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a response to reproductive treatment that increases ovulation:
- Weight gain
The likelihood of developing OHSS is much lower than it used to be, thanks to the identification of risk factors (polycystic ovary syndrome, for example), the measurement of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels prior to using stimulation medications, and the individualization of the hormone protocol that prepares you for the egg retrieval procedure.
More longitudinal data is needed in general to truly understand the long-term impacts of the egg-freezing technique. Because long-term hormone replacement has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, the intense amount of hormones used to stimulate the ovaries of young egg donors (egg donation involves the same process as egg harvesting) may increase their risk of breast cancer — but the reality is that we simply don't know right now.
How much does egg freezing cost?
The average cost of collecting and freezing your eggs is £3,350, with medication costing an additional £500-£1,500. Storage costs additional and often range between £125 and £350 per year. Make sure your clinic provides you with a thorough costed treatment plan so you are not caught off guard by unforeseen 'extras.'
The average cost of thawing eggs and transferring them to the womb is £2,500. So the entire process of freezing and thawing eggs costs around £7,000-£8,000.
Egg freezing is an excellent technique to protect your fertility in the future. Finally, the earlier you freeze your eggs, the better. If you aren't ready to have children right now, you can use your eggs later when you are. Your eggs are frozen after they have been retrieved and our experts have assessed which eggs are ripe. Mature eggs are frozen by first immersing them in a cryoprotective solution and then quickly freezing them using a technique known as vitrification. Each egg is frozen and preserved separately.