Gone are the days when women are married off at the age of 20’s and conceive kids before 30s. The women of today are career driven and have no qualms in planning a family after 30. However, as the biological clock of a woman starts ticking, it is difficult for women to get the same quality eggs after a certain age. Now with the solution of egg freezing, a woman can preserve her quality eggs and get pregnant at her own convenience.
IVF and Infertility Specialist, Dr. Kaberi Banerjee, Advance Fertility, and Gynecological Centre once came across a 32-year-old unmarried lady with breast cancer. “Before undergoing chemotherapy, we froze 18 eggs of hers. She came back 3 years later, this time married. We prepared her uterus, de frozen the eggs and fertilized them using her husband’s sperm, by a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). We could manage to get 8 embryos. We transferred 3 into her uterus and froze the other embryos. She got pregnant in that treatment cycle and now has a one-year-old boy,” adds Dr. Kaberi. This technology is oocyte cryopreservation, more commonly known as egg freezing.
Dr. Kaberi says, “The ovaries of the woman opting for oocyte cryopreservation 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 deemed ready, oocyte harvest or egg retrieval is carried out under mild sedation that takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The retrieved eggs are then frozen using either a slow-freeze method or a flash-freezing process known as vitrification. These eggs can be stored for as long as 10 years, however, research data only proves effectiveness for up to 2 years.”
Don’t be disheartened!
Those undergoing chemotherapy can even choose this treatment to have a complete family. Shivani Sachdev Gour, director, Surrogacy Centre India (SCI) Healthcare says, “Treatments like chemotherapy, radiation or surgery often obliterate the eggs and lead to infertility. Depending on the risk, age of the woman, type of cancer, and cancer treatment plan, doctors recommend egg freezing as an option for women suffering from the disease. Apart from those with diseases, many are also opting for this procedure due to lifestyle reasons.”
The success rates of this process are about 40 – 50 percent. The success, however, depends on the quality of the eggs. Usually, younger women have higher quality eggs as compared to women who are older, and the egg quality deteriorates as a woman ages. Which is why egg freezing tends to be more successful among those who have their eggs frozen at a younger age. The finest outcomes for egg freezing tends to be for women who freeze their eggs before 35 years of age.
In India, one treatment of egg freezing can cost between Rs. 20,000 – Rs. 80,000.
One must keep in mind that the usual risks of using fertility drugs apply to the fertility treatment involved. In such cases it may give women a false hope of future pregnancy, which may or may not happens, leading to emotional turmoil and complications. Dr. Kaberi adds, “Thus, it is significant to keep in mind the various factors such as the risks of this procedure and the probability of your eggs surviving the process when deciding whether to store your eggs for future use.”
So ladies, put your doubts to rest and don’t let the biological clock command your life’s decisions.