Several times we have heard that it is hard to conceive after the age of 35 years but it is not impossible though. It can become a hurdle for some women but it is not anymore.
Now different opportunities are available, today women have a choice of storing and saving their eggs, which can be used in the future when they wish to have a baby.
However, Egg freezing or ovarian cryopreservation is for women who think they want to start a family later.
Understanding Egg Freezing
Dr. Anita S. Chavan, Consultant Gynaecologist, Obstetrician, Laparoscopic Surgeon & Infertility Specialist at AXIS Hospital, Mumbai shared her insights on the topic and said, “Egg freezing is usually considered an option to expand reproductive options and stop the biological clock for women. Usually, healthy eggs are frozen, which can be used later for reproduction. It’s a 10-minute procedure, and the risks could be of infection like in any surgical procedure. Some women are sensitive to the hormone shots that are given to them and may experience some illness related to this.”
What does egg freezing mean, exactly?
Dr. Chavan said, “In medical terms, it is called Oocyte Cryopreservation, which is stimulating the ovaries through hormone shots and retrieving the good quality eggs produced and they are frozen to sub-zero temperature, to be used at a later stage.”
Why might a woman opt to freeze?
“There are varied reasons for this and differs from culture to culture and country to country. Reasons could range from not wanting to have a child for some time to not having a partner or wanting to accomplish some things in life before going into childbearing. It can be a good option if you have some health issues,” said Dr. Chavan.
How invasive is the procedure, and how risky?
Dr. Chavan explained, “It is similar to the surgical process, where you are given mild anesthesia and a needle punctures your vaginal wall to extract eggs from the ovaries. Once the ultrasound confirms that your follicles are ready for egg retrieval, you are given the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, which helps matures those eggs. A needle is inserted through your vaginal wall and eggs are extracted one-by-one from your ovaries.”
Is a 35-year-old egg that’s been frozen healthier than a 40-year-old egg that’s been freshly harvested? Or what is the age group perfect for it?
“Eggs produced by women in their late 30s are usually healthy as compared to the ones after 40s. One can look at freezing eggs in as young as 25 years of age for that matter,” said Dr. Chavan.
Is this an elitist thing? How much does the procedure cost?
According to Chavan, “We have generally come across the news of egg preservation by elites and celebrities; the kit is certainly not an elitist thing. It’s an interesting part of the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), from which anyone can benefit. Again, it’s not an expensive procedure and may cost anywhere between INR 50,000 to 1 Lakh depending upon the facility and doctor you choose.”
Some common myths about it, according to Dr. Chavan:
#Myth1: Some people believe that this is a very new technique and therefore experimental, however, it is well-established scientifically all over the word.
#Myth2: There may be some myths about this being very expensive, but that’s not true as it is within the reach of any middle-class family.
#Myth3: Some think this process may affect the future fertility of a woman well, no; it doesn’t affect future fertility also if you retrieve and freeze some eggs for use in the future.
#Myth4: Some people think that fresh and recently extracted eggs may provide a better chance of pregnancy, however, eggs frozen at a younger age have a better chance of resulting in pregnancy even if they are used at a much later age.