The path to motherhood doesn’t look the same for everyone. For more and more women who want to pursue motherhood, fertility treatments, IVF, and the freezing of eggs are becoming more commonplace.
Below we are talking about the basics of freezing your eggs: what you need to know.
How does egg freezing work?
Freezing eggs, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is a medical procedure that involves retrieving a woman's eggs from her ovaries and freezing them for later use. The frozen eggs can then be thawed, fertilized with sperm, and implanted into the uterus through in vitro fertilization (IVF) when the woman is ready to conceive.
Here's a step-by-step guide to how the process typically works:
- Hormone stimulation: The woman undergoes hormonal stimulation, which involves taking medication to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This is done to increase the chances of retrieving viable eggs.
- Egg retrieval: When the eggs have matured, a doctor uses a transvaginal ultrasound-guided needle to retrieve the eggs from the ovaries. This is done under mild sedation or general anesthesia.
- Egg freezing: The retrieved eggs are then frozen using a process called vitrification. Vitrification is a rapid freezing method that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the eggs quickly, reducing the risk of ice crystal formation that can damage the eggs.
- Storage: The frozen eggs are stored in a specialized facility called a cryopreservation bank until the woman is ready to use them.
- Thawing and fertilization: When the woman decides to use the frozen eggs, they are thawed and fertilized with sperm in a lab through IVF.
- Embryo transfer: The fertilized eggs, now embryos, are then transferred into the woman's uterus, and if successful, can lead to pregnancy.
It's important to note that the success rates of freezing eggs can vary depending on various factors, including the age of the woman at the time of egg retrieval and the quality of the eggs. The process can also be expensive, and not all insurance plans cover it.
Is egg-freezing right for me?
People might consider this treatment if they want to have children, but their timeline is uncertain. The biggest factor for women freezing their eggs is their “biological clock.” As a woman ages, the number of eggs and the quality of eggs that she has declines. Typically, freezing your eggs before you’re 40 increases your likelihood of future attempts being successful.
Deciding whether to freeze your eggs is a complex and personal decision that should be based on your individual circumstances and goals. Some of the factors to consider include your age, fertility status, relationship status, financial considerations, and emotional readiness. It's important to discuss the procedure with your doctor and a fertility specialist to understand the process, potential outcomes, and any associated risks.
Egg freezing can be a good option for preserving fertility, but it's important to carefully consider the various factors involved in the decision-making process. Each individual's situation is unique, and a thorough discussion with healthcare professionals can help make an informed decision.
What are the Risks and Benefits of Egg Freezing?
There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding whether to go this route. There are pros and cons associated.
As we’ve discussed, the primary benefit of the procedure is preserving fertility and extending a woman’s “biological clock.” By freezing eggs while young and healthy, women hope to be able to have biological children years down the line when they’re ready.
On the other hand, there are costs associated with the procedure. The biggest of which being…the cost. As “social” egg freezing continues to gain popularity, most of the women undergoing this process will have to pay out-of-pocket. Especially considering if the first “cycle” doesn’t produce enough mature eggs, it will be necessary to start the process all over again, adding another cost.
Although pregnancy is never guaranteed after freezing eggs and following IVF, it can give a woman options when she is planning her family.
If you’re considering egg freezing, it's important to discuss the procedure with your doctor and a fertility specialist to understand the process, potential outcomes, and any associated risks. Egg freezing can be a good option for preserving fertility, but it's important to carefully consider the various factors involved in the decision-making process. Each individual's situation is unique, and a thorough discussion with healthcare professionals can help make an informed decision.