Egg freezing or “oocyte cryopreservation” is a method used to preserve eggs to be used at a later time. The eggs are protected and frozen in liquid nitrogen. They are placed in a state of suspended animation so that they may be frozen for long periods of time then thawed and used when the patient is ready to become pregnant. The preferred method of freezing is called “vitrification”, which is a special method of freezing that is done very quickly as opposed to the older method of slow freezing. Vitrification, unlike slow cooling which has been used for freezing over the past 20 years, avoids the damage to the cell invoked by ice crystal formation, as well as the “chilling” effects seen with slow cooling. With vitrification, embryos are taken from room temperature to -196º C in a fraction of a second using high concentrations of cryoprotectants.
The patient will undergo IVF with injected medications so that the maximum number of eggs are retrieved. Aaradhya will store eggs for as long as the patient desires with an annual renewal of the cryopreservation agreement. The types of patients who may want to access this technology include young women who want to preserve their fertility due to career or lifestyle choices. The choice to freeze their oocytes at a young age will give them the opportunity to conceive at a later time which may be more appropriate for them. The second group of patients who are candidates for egg freezing are those young women recently diagnosed with cancer. Since most cancer treatments involve radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of both, ovarian function is often compromised causing infertility. If the patient is not in a relationship, the option to freeze just her eggs as opposed to freezing an embryo with partner’s sperm is an option. Once her treatment is completed and she is in a relationship, the frozen eggs can be used with her partner’s sperm.
The option of egg freezing should be discussed with the patient as soon as possible after the cancer diagnosis, so there is time to proceed with the egg collection and freezing prior to any cancer treatments. This many also be an option for those patients who have chronic illnesses whose medication may have a detrimental effect on oocyte function.
Women can have their eggs frozen and stored at Aaradhya in attempt to preserve their fertility. Fertility is scientifically proven to be age dependent and since it is the age of a woman’s eggs which determines her fertility, the eggs of a 30 year old woman are much more likely to lead to successful conception than those of a 40 year old. Freezing your eggs at an early reproductive age can help to preserve your fertility and maximise your chances of a future pregnancy if you should experience fertility problems in the future.
As the risks of miscarriage and certain abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome, increase with age, women may chose to freeze their eggs to help reduce this risk by storing eggs for later fertility treatment, should they require it. Today, the chances of freezing your eggs successfully are dramatically improved because of the rapid advances which have taken place in the science of Cryobiology and its related fields. Hundreds of babies have now been born worldwide using previously frozen, thawed mature eggs .
Why freeze your eggs?
There are many reasons, both medical and social, why you may want to freeze your eggs. It could be that for career, or other reasons, it simply isn’t appropriate or possible to have babies at the time when you are most fertile. And certainly the risks of miscarriage or of certain abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome increase with age.
There are a wide number of medical reasons for taking the precaution of freezing eggs, ranging from impaired ovarian function, to pre-empting chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer.
WHO MAY BENEFIT FROM EGG FREEZING?
There are two main categories of patients who choose to freeze their egg.
- Young single women or women who have decided to defer childbearing. Many women are delaying marriage or going on to develop their careers and as a result, delaying having a family. The likelihood of a woman conceiving in her late 30’s or early 40’s is dramatically lower than in her late 20’s and early 30’s. The incidence of both subtle and obvious chromosomal abnormalities, also rises very significantly for women in their late 30’s and 40’s.
problems in the future.
2 .Women who have to undergo cancer treatment. If time permits women diagnosed with cancer may undergo an IVF cycle to preserve eggs for future use.