Preserving your fertility – Freezing your eggs

Being constantly reminded of your ‘ticking body clock’; Freezing your eggs has now never been easier with a new breakthrough in Cryobiology, and a more popular choice when you decide you want to start a family later in life. Here’s what it’s all about…

9 week human embryo fertility freezing eggs decisions
9 week human embryo from ectopic pregnancy. Image from http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=5962664&searchId=537e5aa87fcfb168be5c953d224015ff&npos=23

What does it involve?

It’s similar to IVF (In vitro fertilisation) but instead of fertilising them straight away, they get frozen commonly by Vitrification (flash frozen) and stored.

2-4 weeks of self-administered hormone injections and birth control pills to temporarily turn off natural hormones. 10-14 days of hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries and ripen multiple eggs.

Once the eggs have matured, they are removed with a needle placed through the vagina under ultrasound guidance. This procedure is done under intravenous sedation and is not painful. The eggs are then immediately frozen. When the patient is ready to attempt pregnancy (this can be several years later) the eggs are thawed, injected with a single sperm to achieve fertilization, and transferred to the uterus as embryos. – source

When should I freeze my eggs?

The big question, WHEN? Generally women are in their ‘prime reproducing’ age in their 20s and early 30s, as we’re all born with all the eggs we will ever need. These number of eggs decline as we age and so does their cellular integrity, that means the quality of the eggs decrease as we age. There are many reasons as to why people freeze their eggs including; medical reasons, and delaying childbearing.

How much does it cost?

With any medical procedure there is a cost and a risk. You can get help with the costs if you qualify, and there are various other free options such as egg sharing ; where you donate your eggs to women going through IVF that are unable to produce their own eggs. The whole procedure can cost around £2,000 – £5,000 with additional costs including £250 annual fee of storage.

What are the success rates and risks?

There’s around a 65% rate of successful deliveries from frozen eggs, which is higher than from fresh eggs or frozen embryos. With studies so far showing no increase in birth defects. Although a relatively new procedure that’s been studied in the longterm, approximately 5,000 babies have been born from frozen eggs in the US. – source

However, according to Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority has published that these success rate is of just 20% amongst women using their own frozen eggs. – source Success rates explained here.

Is it for me?

If you’re in a demanding career and want to delay your child baring days, then you may consider freezing your eggs. However it is time consuming as one cycle takes around two menstrual cycles to complete the egg freezing process.

Overall you shouldn’t be fully dependant on freezing your eggs as it is not a 100% guarantee that if you decide later that you do want to start a family, you will have to go through the same success rates as anyone else going through IVF, with the addition of the success of unfreezing the eggs. Even with the new advances in technology the success rates are still quite low, but with the rate of new developing technology its possible it will be higher later on if you do decide it’s for you.

Would you consider freezing your eggs? Or have you been through IVF yourself? Let us know in the comments below!

Useful links:

London women’s clinic

London Egg Bank

USC Fertility

Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority – Freezing and storing eggs

Rinniboo

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Preserving your fertility – Freezing your eggs

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