10 Things You Need To Know About Freezing Your Eggs, According To A Fertility Expert

To find out all the important facts about egg freezing for women who are curious about the procedure, TC46 connected with Fertility Specialist Dr Apurva Satish Amarnath of Nova IVF Fertility, Bangalore. Here’s her top 10 must-know list for women who are considering freezing their eggs.

1. Egg freezing is done to preserve and safeguard a woman’s potential to reproduce

Egg freezing is a procedure done to save the reproductive potential of women. This is also called oocyte cryopreservation. There’s a lot that goes into egg freezing before we even get to the part where the eggs are actually frozen. There is a mandatory screening done of the woman before the egg freezing, which consists of the following: 1. Ovarian reserve testing: A test is done to determine the quality and quantity of the eggs produced by the woman. In this test, the doctor tests for the AMH level with the AFC test. The results of this test help to determine and predict the response of the ovaries to fertility drugs. 2. Screening for infectious diseases: The woman is screened for several infectious diseases like HIV 1&2, Hep B, Hep C etc. The eggs, which are at some risk of infection are stored separately from the rest of the eggs.

The procedure of egg freezing has multiple steps: Step 1: Inducing Ovulation

1. When the menstrual cycle starts, the treatment begins with the administration of gonadotropin hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce a number of eggs, apart from the single egg which forms monthly. Various drugs which are needed are: – Drugs for ovarian stimulation: The drugs which stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs are follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) or human menopausal gonadotropin – Drugs to prevent premature ovulation: In order to prevent premature ovulation, the woman might be injected with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist or gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist

2. There are different methods with different success rates that a doctor may use to freeze your eggs

The doctor uses various special methods for egg freezing as mentioned below: 1. Usage of cryoprotectants: These cryoprotectants help the egg from forming an intracellular harmful ice crystal when stored in deep freezing. 2. Slow-freezing technique: This technique involves the use of programmable freezers that freeze the eggs very slowly so that the intracellular ice crystals cannot be formed. This technique protects the eggs from exposure to the toxic substances present in the cryoprotectants. In this slow-freezing method, initially, the cryoprotectants are used in a very low concentration. The high concentration of cryoprotectants is only used when there is a gradual decline in the temperature and a decrease in the metabolic rates of the eggs.

3. Freezing your eggs allow you to choose pregnancy at a later stage in life

Women today are choosing to have children later in life than ever before. Egg freezing can enable a woman to delay pregnancy until a later stage. Medical professionals refer to the procedure as oocyte cryopreservation. The average age of birthing a child has been steadily increasing.  Society and patterns in childbirth may be changing. However, the biological realities of fertility remain the same. Most women enter menopause in their late 40s or early 50s. In the years before menopause, a woman’s fertility declines. Conceiving a child is not as easy in later years as it is for a younger woman. Women who are considering freezing their eggs should be aware that successful pregnancies are less common with frozen eggs than fresh eggs. However, the use of frozen eggs can offer hope of conceiving in the future.

4. Freezing your eggs has its own complications, including physical and emotional risks

The egg freezing method does carry some risks, as mentioned below. 1. Conditions associated with the use of fertility drugs: In rare cases, injectable fertility drugs like HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin), which are used to induce ovulation, may sometimes lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. In this syndrome, the ovaries get painful and swollen immediately after the retrieval of the eggs or ovulation. Some other related signs and symptoms of the syndrome may be as mentioned. – Diarrhoea – Nausea – Vomiting – Abdominal pain – Bloating