If you ask married couples what is the most cherished gift of their relationship, then there answer will be their children. No matter which country you are from, welcoming a child comes with a common feeling of joy. This feeling can take a back seat when you are not able to get pregnant even after repeated tries. When you are trying for more than a year but not able to conceive, then the medical term infertility is used. It can cause a lot of mental stress. However, with the advancement of modern techniques, there are many treatment options for this condition. In many infertility cases, there is problem of eggs. There is an option of freezing of eggs in early years when eggs are produced in good quantity. To do this, you need to consult an egg freezing center.
Why eggs are frozen
Fertilization of egg is a step that is taken way before pregnancy. It is considered as a first step in getting pregnant at a later stage. Many women go ahead with this procedure as they don’t have an active male partner. This is the main reason why they haven’t started their family yet. In some cases, they put their career ahead and want to wait while having a child as it can be a hindrance. As they age, the likelihood of the egg getting developed decreases which leads to pregnancy issues. Eggs that are frozen don’t age or get old. The biological clock is stopped for them. Medical reasons also play a part in this. Cancer treatment directly affects the ovaries and can damage the eggs by causing premature menopause.
What is egg freezing?
Egg freezing is a procedure involving preservation of the woman’s eggs. These are harvested from the ovaries and stored for use in later stages of life. They are frozen in an unfertilized condition which is then thawed and combined with a sperm and implanted in the uterus of the woman during IVF to facilitate pregnancy. Eggs freezing is basically done as complication of infertility mostly occur due to germ cell deterioration. The uterus remains completely functional.
What are the risks associated?
Before going ahead with this procedure, your oocyte freezing center will tell you about all the risk that is accompanied with this procedure. Some of the common risks include –
• You should be emotionally ready because it is not 100 percent successful. There should not be any false hopes. The process in itself is a positive and empowering step but not completely risk free.
• You are given fertility drugs which can cause some medical conditions. Use of injectable fertility drugs causes ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome leading to mild abdominal pain, bloating and nausea. Rarely, fluids get build up and there is shortness of breath too.
• There can also be egg retrieval procedure complications. Needle used in retrieving the egg causes bleeding and infection to the bowel, bladder or a blood vessel.
How do you prepare for the procedure?
Before the process begins, egg freezing centers will have some screening methods. Ovarian reserve testing is done to determine the quantity as well as quality of your eggs. The results which will come out will help in determining how the ovaries will respond to fertility medications. You will also be screened for certain diseases such as HIV. After all the tests are done, you can ask the doctor all the doubts that you have.
How is the procedure performed?
There are two methods to freeze the eggs –
• Slow freeze method – in this procedure, low concentrations of cryoprotectants are used. As soon as the metabolic rate of the eggs is reduced, concentration is increased.
• Vitrification – In this procedure, high initial concentrations of cryoprotectants are combined with cooling at a fast rate. This is done so that intracellular ice crystals are not formed.
Guide created by Natera, who provide ctdna testing