Beating The Biological Clock With Egg-Freezing: Here's All Need To Know
Egg freezing is a process in which a woman's eggs are extracted, frozen and stored. Later, when the woman is ready to become pregnant, the eggs will be thawed, fertilised, and transferred to her uterus as embryos.
The process of egg freezing is also called oocyte cryopreservation
With more and more women choosing to wait till they are physically, mentally and financially ready to have a baby, it is a combination of science and technology that is coming to their rescue with a plethora of options such as egg-freezing, in vitro fertility (IVF) treatments, surrogacy. This also means that an increasing number of women no longer need to worry about the proverbial biological clock ticking away.
So, should you consider freezing your eggs? Dr Hrishikesh Pai, gynaecologist and fertility specialist at Lilavati and Bhatia hospitals in Mumbai and Fortis Hospitals in Delhi, says it is certainly an option to consider seriously.
A woman's fertility-her probability of getting pregnant during a year falls from 86 percent at age 20 to 52 percent at age 35. Thereafter it drops ever more steeply to 36 percent by age 40 and 5 percent by age 45. Late marriages can cause problems during conception and might complicate childbirth, which is why women are encouraged to get married and have a baby in their twenties, when their reproductive organs are at the peak of their conceiving capacity.
"Egg freezing or human oocyte cryopreservation is a novel technology in which a woman's eggs are extracted, frozen and stored. Later, when the woman is ready to become pregnant, the eggs will be thawed, fertilised, and transferred to her uterus as embryos," explains Dr Pai.
As you age, the quality of eggs declines. By freezing your eggs in your twenties or even early thirties, you can reduce the chances of conceiving a baby with birth defects from using old eggs, he adds.
All you need to know about egg-freezing
Explaining the procedure, Dr Nandita Palshetkar, obstretician-gynaecologist, Lilavati Hospital and a fertility expert from Mumbai, says, "During the egg freezing procedure, the patient undergoes a battery of tests to ensure that she is healthy. Hormonal injections are given to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. The patient undergoes hormone-injection treatment for approximately 4-6 weeks. Thereafter, the eggs are removed surgically and frozen either by cooling down slowly or by vitrification i.e flash freezing. Freezing the eggs at a temperature of -196 C in liquid nitrogen and liquid cryoprotectant ensures long-term storage. Research has shown that the flash freezing method increases the success rates of conceiving."
"It is advisable for a woman to freeze about 10 eggs per pregnancy attempt to improve the success rates. Most women, under 38 years of age, harvest 10-20 eggs per cycle. Freezing 10 out of these would mean only 7 survive the thawing process, of which 5-6 are anticipated to fertilize and become embryos. The best 3-4 embryos can then be transferred in women when they are ready to have a baby," adds Dr Palshetkar.
Egg freezing technology can also come to the rescue of thousands of women, who may have been diagnosed with cancer, and have to go through cycles of chemotherapy and radiation, both of which are toxic for oocytes, and which leave few, if any, viable eggs, she adds.
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