Egg freezing: Know all about the procedure and its scope in menopausal women


With the innovation of advanced technologies and a fast-moving lifestyle, it has today become normal for couples to have children when they are mentally willing and committed to parenthood. However, it is undeniable that most couples face difficulty conceiving in the later stage of life due to increasing fertility problems.

As a result, assisted reproductive techniques, including egg freezing, have turned out to be saviours for couples, especially women who wish to conceive in the later stages of their life. Medically known as mature oocyte cryopreservation, it is a method that involves saving a women’s ability to get pregnant in the future. In this method, unfertilised eggs are harvested from the ovaries and frozen to be used later, where they can be combined with the sperm and implanted in the uterus manually, explained Dr Swati Mishra, consultant, Birla Fertility and IVF.

Who can benefit from it?

Egg freezing is a reliable option for women who are not yet ready to get pregnant and wish to conceive in their thirties. One of the most significant advantages of this technique is that it is a multi-step process and does not require sperm from the donor, and can be fertilised at the time of conception,” said Dr Mishra.

Before opting for this method, it is crucial to understand when a woman can use this option. These include:

In case of Infertility: Majority of the couples are unable to conceive due to various factors that can cause fertility problems, including any disease like lupus, sickle cell anaemia, or PCOD.

In case of cancer treatment: The treatment of cancers leaves a significant impact on the body, weakening different organs. Certain medication and therapies like chemotherapy can emit harmful radiations that can affect one’s fertility.

During IVF: In vitro fertilization is another method that involves fertilising eggs with sperm in vitro. Depending upon the case, doctors may even suggest egg freezing to women as per the requirement.

Delayed pregnancy: Some couples wish to delay pregnancy and safely preserve young eggs for their future pregnancy.

Physical problems: In some instances of infections, organ failure, or other physical issues like endometriosis (which is a condition in which tissues grow outside the womb blocking the fallopian tube), there are chances of damage to the quality of eggs.

What is the procedure?

Before egg freezing, patients have to undergo screening procedures to identify any signs of infections that can make the process complicated. Once done, the process is carried out and the patient is closely monitored at every step. Egg freezing involves multiple procedures, but it can be broadly divided into three broad parts. These include:

Ovarian stimulation: In this process, synthetic hormones are injected into the patients to stimulate the ovaries and produce multiple eggs rather than a single one. To prevent the chances of premature ovulation, other medications are also injected into the patient. Next, to measure the response and monitor the development of follicles (fluid-filled sacs where eggs mature), blood tests and vaginal ultrasound are also conducted. It usually takes 12-14 days for follicles to develop inside the ovaries.

Egg retrieval: This process is done under sedation, in which an ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina to identify the follicles. A suction device connected to a needle is used to remove the egg from the follicle, and this process can take up to 10-15 cycles to ensure that enough eggs are collected.

Freezing: Once the unfertilised eggs are collected, they are frozen to sub-zero temperatures to preserve them for future use. One of the most common processes of egg freezing is called vitrification. High concentrations of substances are used to prevent the formation of ice crystals during the freezing process.

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