The field of assisted reproductive technology is booming with new technologies that enable couples to conceive as per their requirement. For women who wish to delay pregnancy owing to medical reasons or other personal reasons, the option of egg freezing largely helps. If you too wish to opt for this type of fertility procedure then read on this article to know all about it.
What is Egg freezing?
Egg Freezing also known as oocyte cryopreservation is a technique in assisted reproductive technology through which the eggs of a woman are harvested from ovaries and are freezed for future use. This process is generally combined with in vitro fertilization method wherein the fertilized egg is implanted in the woman’s uterus.
Egg freezing is particularly a helpful option for women who are not looking to conceive currently but wish to have a biological child in the future. This type of procedure does not require a male partner, as the unfertilized eggs are stored and freezed for future use. Male partner is usually required at the time of embryo freezing. Woman is generally administered with fertility drugs to induce ovulation process that helps in producing a good number of eggs at the time of retrieval.
When to opt for egg freezing?
- If the woman is diagnosed with cancer and has to undergo treatment for the same which may have an impact on her fertility
- If the male partner is unable to produce appropriate amount of sperm at the time of IVF process
- If the woman wishes to delay motherhood
What are risks associated with Egg Freezing?
Few of the risks associated with egg freezing include:
The injectable fertility drug i.e. Human chorionic gonadotropin can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which may result in pain and swelling in the ovaries right after egg retrieval or ovulation. Few other conditions a woman may face includes:
- Abdominal pain
Egg retrieval using needle can also lead to infection, bleeding or damage to urinary bladder in rare scenarios.
After the egg freezing process, woman may also face the following:
What is the procedure of egg freezing?/ What does egg freezing procedure involve?
Before a woman opts for egg freezing process, the below screenings are done:
Screening for infectious disease: To ensure the woman does not have any infection, screening for diseases like HIV 122, Hep B, Hep C is done. Eggs that are at a risk of infection are stored separately than the others.
Ovarian reserve testing: This test is done to check on the quality and quantity of egg production.
Then the below procedure is performed:
The treatment of egg freezing starts with ovulation induction i.e. the woman is prescribed certain drugs that help in stimulating the ovaries to produce a number of eggs. Drugs are also prescribed to prevent pre-mature ovulation. After a few days, blood test is done to determine the response of the drugs prescribed. To induce maturation and ovulation of eggs, HCG injection is given.
Egg Retrieval: This process is done under anesthesia. To locate the follicles, a small ultrasound probe is inserted in the vagina. The eggs are removed from the follicles using needle attached to a suction device. Multiple eggs are produced in a span of 20-30 minutes. If ovaries are not accessed through ultrasound technique, a small needle is inserted through laparoscopy technique i.e. a tube with camera is inserted through a small cut made in the belly button.
The eggs are frozen to sub-zero temperature (-196 degree) to stop the biological activity in the egg. The eggs are then preserved for future use.