A treatment that is helping couples become parents

IVF expert Dr Kaberi Banerjee talks about egg freezing, the procedure that is helping many couples become parents.

What’s egg freezing?

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) has progressed in the last decade, which has made it possible for couples to have children despite unfortunate health ailments or reasons such as delayed marriages etc. This technology called oocyte cryopreservation, is known as egg freezing.

A woman’s body allows her to produce the highest quality eggs before the age of 30, which continues to deteriorate after the age of 35. In such cases, the process, which involves egg extraction, freezing, and storage; allows women to secure future childbirth without compromising on their freedom. It also helps women suffering from ailments such as cancer wherein treatments like chemotherapy, surgery or radiation can lead to infertility. It’s also helpful in cases when the male partner is unable to collect a semen sample for oocyte insemination on the day of the oocyte retrieval. In such cases oocytes may be cryo-preserved for insemination and embryo transfer at a later date.

How does it work?

It is quite simple. The ovaries of the woman opting for it are stimulated using fertility medications. Multiple eggs, as a result, reach maturation during a single treatment cycle. Follicle-stimulating hormone is self-administered in the form of a daily injection for about a week. The ovarian response is monitored over a period of about two weeks. Once the eggs are ready, oocyte harvest or egg retrieval is carried out. The retrieved eggs are then frozen using a process known as vitrification.

How effective is it?

The success rate is about 40% – 50% and it depends on the quality of the eggs. Generally, younger women have higher quality eggs than women who are older. The best time to undergo this is before the age of 35.

What should one keep in mind before under-going the treatment?

One must keep in mind that the usual risks of using fertility drugs apply here, too. In addition, there exists less evidence to prove how many eggs will survive or become fertilised. In such cases it may give women a false hope of future pregnancy. Thus, it is important that you take into consideration several factors such as the risks of undergoing this procedure and the likelihood of eggs surviving the process before going ahead.

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