Freezing Your Eggs: 5 Things You Need to Know
September 20, 2019 | admin
Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) is a fast-evolving technology that is rising in popularity. For women who have to undergo radiation treatments like chemotherapy which affect their fertility, egg freezing is indeed a boon. For women with less pressing concerns, there are many fertility options out there for their consideration. Egg retrieval and freezing are costly procedures with physical and emotional challenges. Though there is a good probability of success, it also has its share of pros and cons.
If you are aware of how egg freezing works, then you also need to consider the following five factors to help you decide if egg freezing is right for you.
1 – You May Have To Repeat The Procedure Multiple Times
The procedures involving egg freezing are quite expensive. And the whole process involving using these eggs and the IVF can be physically and emotionally challenging. Egg retrieval and freezing can cost about Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh in India. Additionally, the storage costs can come to Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 30,000 per year.
Based on your choice of a reputed fertility clinic, you need to find out how much the egg retrieval and freezing procedure will cost and what their storage charges per year are. You should also factor in the probability of having to undergo multiple procedures to collect the required number of eggs. Thus the cost of collecting and freezing the same number of eggs may not be the same for everyone.
According to research, to have a reasonable chance of fertilizing her frozen eggs and conceive a baby, a woman should ideally freeze around 15 eggs. To collect so many eggs, some women may require just one round of the egg retrieval procedure while others may require multiple procedures to reach the desired number.
The eggs available for collection, in a woman, during a cycle of stimulation and retrieval depends on many factors, such as her age at the time of the treatment, her response to the stimulation, her ovarian reserves and so on.
2 – You May Need to Freeze More than 15 Eggs
Though at least 15 eggs are considered the ideal number of eggs retrieved for egg freezing, some medical experts recommend freezing even more eggs to increase your chances of a successful pregnancy as some of your frozen eggs may not thaw successfully. If you are planning to use your frozen eggs to have more than one child in the future, then you can discuss your options with your doctor to create a customized treatment plan.
The age at which a woman chooses to use her eggs is very important with regard to her chances of conceiving successfully. According to recent data, a 34-year old woman freezing ten eggs has a 75% chance of having one live birth. To have the same chance of success, a 37-year-old woman has to freeze 20 eggs while a 42-year-old woman will have to freeze 61 eggs.
3- You May Lose Eggs Along The Way
You must keep in mind that even if 15 eggs are collected in the retrieval procedure, many eggs will be lost during the entire process of egg freezing, thawing, and fertilization. Assuming 15 eggs were collected from a healthy 36-year-old woman, some of these eggs may be unsuitable for freezing as they may not be mature enough. Some of them may not freeze correctly – if ice crystals are formed in the egg during the freezing process, the eggs may get damaged.
Even if they were frozen perfectly, they may not thaw or fertilize correctly. Of all the eggs that get fertilized, some may not reach the blastocyst stage required for implanting into the uterus. So at the end of all this, you may be left with just three to four embryos that can be used to attempt conception.
According to a report from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), The birth rate using frozen eggs per embryo transfer is about 19%. So even with these 4 viable embryos, live birth is not a guarantee.
4 – What to Expect After the Egg Retrieval Procedure
It’s best to rest for a few days after your egg retrieval though you can get back to your normal routine within a week of the procedure. It is especially important to avoid unprotected sex at this time to avoid an unintended pregnancy.
Complications after the egg retrieval are rare, but practice caution and contact your healthcare provider if you
- Have a fever above 38.6 C (101.5 F)
- Bleed heavily from the vagina, requiring over two pads in an hour
- Severe abdominal pain ( a little pain is normal)
- Pin or any other discomfort while urinating
- Bloating or sudden weight gain of over two pounds within 24 hours
5 – There Are Chances It May Not Work For You
Egg freezing offers a chance of getting pregnant successfully at an older age using your frozen eggs. It is not a sure shot guarantee that you will conceive. It is important that you are aware of this.
Even after several IVF attempts using frozen eggs, the cumulative live birth rate of egg freezing is only about 20% for women freezing their eggs at 36 years of age. According to studies on using frozen donor eggs from young women, older women still have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications than women attempting to conceive at a younger age using similar frozen donor eggs.
Don’t Let Your Fears Hold You Back
Now that you have gone through what seems more like a list of cons, don’t let it scare you off.
Just because there are some risks associated with the procedure does not mean, it will not be successful. It is just that you need to have realistic expectations. As for costs and the effort involved, you may be lucky enough to get all your eggs collected in the first round of egg retrieval itself. Most people do not experience any complications after the egg retrieval process though some mild discomfort is to be expected.
Even if you lose a few eggs along the way with the whole freezing procedure, you should still be able to get at least 3 to 4 viable embryos from them. You just need one of these to work right to end up with a successful pregnancy. So egg freezing is all about hope. It offers you a chance, a probability, where there were none before. It is not for the weak-hearted. It takes a bold woman to take the risk and conquer her world and achieve her desires. Egg freezing gives her that choice to do so.
The Success is Sweet and Simply Adorable
It easy to let your fears take over when you hear the probable risks of egg freezing. When in doubt, take a look at the pros too. From Miss World Diana Hayden from India to Hollywood celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Sofia Vergara, these bold and beautiful women are certainly striding forward in this arena.
India has its share of egg freezing success stories although its names like Diana’s that tend to get the limelight. She used eggs she had frozen in 2008 to conceive and deliver a healthy baby girl in 2016. She again used her frozen eggs to successfully deliver a set of twins in 2018.
Diana chose to freeze her eggs when she was diagnosed with endometriosis, a medical condition in which endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus. According to research, endometriosis may lead to poor egg quality in women at a younger age than their counterparts. So, for women diagnosed with endometriosis, freezing their healthy eggs before their egg quality may deteriorate, is surely a smart and proactive decision
Those recently diagnosed with premature ovarian failure will surely benefit from freezing their healthy eggs before they become infertile. Women with this medical condition tend to lose the proper functioning of their ovaries and eventually the production of the hormone estrogen may get affected or their eggs may not be released properly. This commonly results in infertility. Women who have to undergo chemotherapy or other radiation treatments that can affect their fertility or should definitely consider freezing their eggs to have a child at a time when they have overcome their cancers and feel ready to take on the challenge of motherhood.
The Final Note on Freezing Your Eggs
Egg freezing does indeed provide a profound opportunity to delay motherhood until you are ready for it, but this procedure is not the ideal choice for every woman out there. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before taking the final call.
Don’t let fear hold you back, there are innumerable stories of egg freezing success with thousands of overjoyed moms and their adorable babies. So do your research and get proactive about when to have your babies.