Egg Freezing: How it Works – Info from a Fertility Clinic
- Posted on: Nov 3 2013
Egg Freezing: How it Works
Egg freezing may be an option if you want to have a baby in the future, but would prefer to postpone it for a few years. Women who wish to postpone childbearing due to cancer therapy, advancing age with no male partner or those who wish to postpone having a child to an age over 35 years, should consider egg freezing as an option to protect their future fertility.
The information below will help you decide if egg freezing is an option for you to preserve your fertility.
What is Egg Freezing?
Egg freezing, technically called oocyte cryopreservation, refers to the process of freezing a woman’s eggs. The eggs are removed from the ovary in an IVF procedure, slow or fast frozen and then stored at below freezing temperatures so that they can be thawed and fertilized at a later date.
By taking advantage of egg freezing, you are essentially suspending the ticking of your biological clock.
The fact is, a woman’s eggs are of better quality and there are more of them when a woman is in her 20’s and early 30’s. From 35 onward, women’s eggs begin to decrease in number and quality. So, if you are in your early 30s now, but not ready to get pregnant; until your 40’s egg freezing may improve the likelihood of having a baby when your over 40 years of age.
How Does Egg Freezing Work?
Once you have decided on egg freezing, you will basically go through some of the same initial steps as patient’s that undergo a IVF cycle.
- First, you will be given fertility medicines that boost egg production.
- Next, when the eggs are mature, using an ultrasound to guide the process, the eggs are extracted from the ovaries with a long needle. This is normally done on an outpatient basis. You will be given sedation and the process is generally not painful.
- After the egg and follicular fluid is extracted from the ovaries, the fluid that is removed during the egg retrieval process is poured out into a flat dish (petri dish) and the individual eggs are identified using a microscope, and then withdrawn for freezing.
- Eggs are typically vitrified. Vitrification is a fast freezing process. Some Infertility Centers use the “slow freeze” method to cryopreserve eggs.
- When you are ready to try to get pregnant(in the future), your eggs are thawed, injected with a single sperm and then after a few days; the fertilized eggs that have resulted in good quality embryos are transferred to your uterus. This is done in the same way as IVF, using a long, thin catheter inserted via the vagina, through the cervix and up to the uterus where they will hopefully attach, implant and grow. It’s important to remember that not all good quality eggs survive the freeze and thaw process.
Egg freezing is an increasingly popular way for women to delay having a baby until a time of their choosing. In October of 2012, the ASRM—or American Society for Reproductive Medicine—lifted their previous “experimental” label of egg freezing because after reviewing more than 1,000 cases; they determined that frozen, thawed eggs were every bit as effective as fresh eggs used in In Vitro Fertilization.
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