The idea of women freezing their eggs has been in the news a lot recently as a result of announcements made by multi-billion dollar companies, Google and Apple. The global corporations have said they would be offering financial support to female employees who wanted to have their eggs frozen. Whether recent publicity has got you thinking or the idea has been in the back of your mind for a long time, there are some things you need to consider about the procedure.
We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions which should give you a better insight into the whole thing!
Why would I freeze my eggs?
Freezing your eggs is a method of prolonging fertility. Unlike the ovaries and eggs, the uterus doesn't actually age and can carry a pregnancy well into its fifth decade. By freezing your eggs you are extending the time your body has to become pregnant.
How does it work?
The woman undergoes the same hormone-injection process as in IVF. When the eggs are retrieved, they are frozen until they are due to be transferred into the uterus at some point in the future.
How common is the procedure?
The first baby conceived with a frozen egg was born in 1986 and it has been estimated that 1000-2000 children have been born using the technique since.
What would I need to do?
To turn off natural hormones, the woman administers herself with hormone injections and birth control pills for two to four weeks. This process is followed by two weeks of more self-administered injections which aim to stimulate the ovaries and ripen multiple eggs.
What does the hospital do?
The hospital procedure involves removing the eggs with a long needle which has been inserted through the vagina. The procedure is done under sedation and is not painful. Once the eggs have been retrieved, they are immediately frozen awaiting the woman's decision to have them thawed.
How long do the eggs remain frozen?
There are cases of eggs having been frozen for ten years which resulted in healthy embryos, but these are exceptional cases. According to the Centre for Fertility Preservation, the viability of frozen eggs may decrease over time, but frozen embryos are known to survive five years or more.
How many eggs would I need to freeze?
It is recommended that ten eggs are retrieved from the uterus. Seven of these will expect to survive the thaw while five or six eggs are expected to fertilise and become embryos.
What happens after the procedure?
Over the week following the procedure, many women experience abdominal bloating. This discomfort generally subsides after one week. The pain is as a result of the natural ovulation process, but because multiple eggs have been extracted from the ovaries the feelings of pain and discomfort are more intense.
What are the risks?
Like all medical procedures, oocyte cyropreservation carries some risks, namely: the possibility of both bleeding and infection from the egg retrieval process. It is recommended that women seriously consider the possible implications and complications of undergoing the process.
The process of freezing your eggs can be a costly and emotional process, so women are advised to research the procedure and familiarise themselves with the various elements involved to ensure the approach is the right one for the individual!