Egg freezing is currently one of the methods available for fertility preservation.
Fertility is an important thing to
many women. Having a child and starting a family is huge responsibility.
Therefore, many women want to wait until the time is just right so that they
can give their child the best possible life. As the human body works on its own
biological clock, this can often be against nature’s timeframe. Fortunately,
technology can intervene.
Fertility preservation is the
process of giving longevity to natural fertility. One stage of this is egg
freezing. The most fertile years of a woman’s life is the early 20s to early
30s. However, this is also a time when there is excessive social pressure and a
good chance at establishing a stable career. After the age of 36, a woman’s
chance at conceiving naturally has greatly diminished and is something of just
15% chance per month. By the age of 45, that chance is down to less than 1%.
This puts some emotional stress and
pressure on women to have a baby, often when they aren’t ready. Therefore, egg
preservation can help stabilise emotional wellbeing by giving women control
over their natural fertility. It means that there is a greater chance of
conceiving a child later in life, when they are in a better holistic position
to do so.
Throughout this article, the process
of egg freezing and what is involved throughout it will be explored. It is hard
to know whether egg freezing is the best route and is a personal decision that
needs to be discussed with a fertility specialist. Knowing the basics can help
make an informed decision on this.
is egg freezing?
The method of egg freezing involves
taking a women’s unfertilised eggs and storing them. They are stored in a
specialty freezer and retrieved at a later date. They are then used to be
fertilised at this time when natural conception is less likely or no longer
Eggs can be frozen for many years
and they don’t deteriorate. Once the woman is ready to have a child, the eggs
are defrosted. They are then fertilised with a sperm, donor or otherwise, and
once there is a successful embryo, it is transferred into the woman’s uterus.
The eggs are transplanted through
the intra vitro fertilisation method. The procedure is essentially the same as
IVF, except that the eggs being used are ones that are frozen, not freshly
harvested from the woman’s ovaries. Therefore, the outcomes are on a similar to
standard IVF procedures.
are the eggs obtained?
To get the eggs for freezing, the
woman is given some hormonal stimulation to make sure there are plenty of eggs.
Generally, about 6 -15 eggs mature and are taken into freezing. The hormonal
stimulation options vary and are best discussed with a fertility specialist.
Next, the eggs are collected from
the ovaries. This is done using a special type of ultrasound probe inserted
through the vagina. The procedure normally happens under a light anaesthetic or
sedation. Women are not advised to drive after the procedure but they can go
home after an one hour or two.
After this, the eggs are taken to
the laboratory. This is when the freezing process happens. This process is
called vitrification. The freezing process extracts fluid from the eggs to
prevent crystal ice forming and causing damage. The eggs can then be stored for
many years after vitrification has been successful.
is egg freezing ideal for?
The process of egg freezing is often
recommended for women who have undergone medical procedures or experienced
cancer. Treatments such as these can put natural fertility at risk so it is
better to retrieve the eggs while they are in healthy condition and use them at
a later time.
Other times that egg freezing is
used is for women who want to put off having children for lifestyle reasons.
This can be for reasons of a career or not being in a stable position to start
a family. It can be a responsible decision to freeze the eggs and wait until
the time is right to have a child.
Egg freezing can be accessed by
single women and couples. It is ideal for single women if they want a chance at
a healthy baby but do not have a stable relationship or want to be in a
relationship. It is also good for couples who want to establish themselves in a
stable life before committing themselves to having a child.
does egg freezing assist fertility?
A basic biological fact is that
woman are more fertile when they are younger. In youth, eggs have a higher
combination of genetically ‘normal’ DNA that is healthy and free from disease.
Freezing the eggs when they are in their prime helps to give that egg a better
chance of turning into a healthy embryo with fertilisation.
Egg freezing is also successful
because the thawing has no effect on the health of the egg. Freezing it and
thawing it out doesn’t affect the state of egg and how it will be impacted by
fertilisation. This means that it basically acts as a chance for women to stop
the clock on their natural fertility and literally freeze the state of the egg
how it is.
are the success rates?
In Australia, the egg freezing
process has relatively high success rates. It is still a fairly new procedure
so there are not many statistics to give a holistic take on it. The greatest
factor for success is the age of the women when the eggs are taken for
freezing. The younger the woman, the greater the natural fertility, therefore
the greater chance the eggs have of being fertilised later on.
According to some data collected by
IVF Australia, approximately 80-90% of the eggs collected from a woman under
the age of 35 would have a successful chance of surviving the warming process.
Of this, 50-80% would have successful fertilisation. Then, 80-90% of those
would turn into embryos if fertilised. Of those embryos, 20-35% have a
successful chance of developing into pregnancy.
This procedure is straightforward
and a mostly reliable fertility preservation method, depending on many factors.
It does not guarantee a healthy pregnancy or baby later in life. There are many
other lifestyle, diet, and health factors that contribute to having a baby once
passed the age of natural fertility.
are the costs involved?
Like any medical procedure, there
are costs associated with egg freezing. In Australia, Medicare and other
government subsidies are only available for fertility if there is a valid
medical reason. Therefore, if egg freezing is a personal choice because of
lifestyle, there might not be financial help. It is important to discuss this
clearly with the fertility specialist before committing to the procedure.
As for the costs, an egg freezing
cycle where 10 eggs are retrieved generally costs around $6,000 or more. For an
additional ten eggs, the cost is $800. On top of these costs, there are also
fees for the day surgery, medication, and anaesthetic fee. Ongoing storage fees
are typically $500 per year in Australia.
The initial cost covers many things,
including cycle monitoring and blood tests, nursing care and specialised
counselling, surgeon’s fees, and a complimentary 6 months storage. The large
costs associated with this are something that individuals need to factor into
their financial long-term decisions of wanting to start a family one day.
else to know about egg freezing?
It is somewhat unclear about how
many women actually retrieve their eggs and go through to use them to have a
baby. There are many cases in Australia and the United States where the eggs
are never retrieved. This can happen because women end up conceiving naturally
at a good age, not needing their frozen eggs.
As stated earlier, egg freezing is
most successful when the eggs are harvested from a young age. The best age is
shown to be 22 as this is a woman’s most fertile period. However, there is some
data to show that eggs can be successful frozen and fertilised up to the age of
This technology is still relatively
new and has undergone many changes in the past 10 years. It is a type of
fertility preservation that is still being explored and understood. The cost is
one of the main reasons that more women aren’t using it, as the funds needed
for the procedure could comfortably be put towards savings and having a child
Egg freezing is currently one of the
methods available for fertility preservation. There is also embryo freezing and
ovarian tissue freezing but these are more specific and complex. There is no
‘anti-aging’ for ovaries and little ways to stop this natural fertility
process. Therefore, egg freezing is one of the most reliable options that women
have. It is hard for women to be proactive about their fertility so this is one
key route that is being made increasingly available for women around the world.
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