If you are a woman in her fertile years who is looking to increase your chances of reproducing in the future, you might start considering freezing your eggs. Unlike men who produce sperm throughout their adult lives, women are born with all of the eggs they are likely to produce.
If you are in your thirties and want a baby in the future, but do not yet have the time or the relationship to support this life change, you might catch yourself thinking, I want to freeze my eggs. In addition, if you have been diagnosed with cancer, you might consider freezing a few eggs for the future because chemotherapy could harm your eggs and make you infertile.
Below you can find some frequently asked questions about egg freezing.
When is the Best Time to Freeze My Eggs?
The best time to freeze your eggs would certainly be in your prime reproductive years, however you might not know that you want your eggs frozen that early. Freezing your eggs in your late 20s and early 30s is the most ideal time in terms of egg quality and quantity. This is also the time that you will have a clearer path of your life ahead of you.
How are the Eggs Retrieved?
To retrieve eggs to freeze, the patient undergoes a hormonal stimulation process similar to one that would happen during IVF. This lasts for about 10 to 12 days and allows around 6 to 15 eggs to mature. You can discuss the stimulation technique that is best for you with your doctor.
Each day, you will give yourself a daily injection using a small, needle-like pen device. There are not many side effects to this injection, except for the possibility of minor bloating.
When it’s time to collect the eggs, you will usually be put under a light general anaesthetic. The doctor will use an ultrasound guided probe to reach the ovaries from the vagina. Inside the probe is a needle which is gently passed through the vaginal wall into the ovaries, which enables the doctor to, in effect, breathe in the eggs from the ovary. You can go home one or two hours after the procedure, but should rest and not drive for the rest of the day.
Then the eggs will undergo vitrification, a rapid freezing process that pulls any liquids from the eggs to prevent ice crystal formation.
How Does Egg Freezing Work?
Believe it or not, eggs are the largest cell in the human body with the most amount of water. This makes them slightly harder to freeze because ice crystals are more likely to form that can possibly destroy the cell. That’s why, during the vitrification process, we dehydrate the eggs. Eggs may also be frozen with a slow-freeze method. These eggs may be stored for many years without suffering from much or any deterioration.
What Happens Next?
When you are ready to use your eggs, they will be warmed and fertilised with sperm. What you want is for the fertilised egg to develop into an embryo before being inserted into the woman’s womb.
For further information and resources regarding freezing your eggs, egg donations or fertility treatments in Melbourne, contact Dr Alex Polyakov – fertility specialist, gynaecologist and obstetrician – today.