Freezing your fertility

Freezing your fertility

With their careers taking off at a time when they are most fertile, an increasing number of women - not just celebrities -can now find solace in egg freezing, observes Dr Swarnalatha G

Initially, egg freezing was used for medical reasons where women suffering from diseases like cancer used to freeze their eggs before going in for chemotherapy, which affects the ovulation process.

However, this technique is now being used for lifestyle reasons too. For women choosing to defer motherhood, there has never been a more liberating option. Ovary or egg cell banks are here to assist those who are bent on beating the biological clock.

Since the motherhood age coincides with the time when their careers are taking off - mid to late-twenties, that is - most working women have a tough call to make. For years, though, women didn’t really have a choice; the career had to be put on hold.

Now, with egg banking, many are deferring pregnancies to early, even mid or late-thirties. Oocyte Cryopreservation (egg freezing in common parlance) is a concept which is aimed particularly at women who plan for a baby at a later stage in their life.

Egg freezing helps their future ability to have children, in the likelihood that eggs decline in both quality and quantity as they age. With the option to fertilise limited number of eggs, the process of retrieving the eggs is the same as that for IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation).

On an average, a woman ovulates one egg monthly. So when she wishes to go in for egg freezing, hormones are injected to ensure multiple formations of oocytes during the process.

The eggs are monitored with the help of ultrasound and hormone testing to ensure good quality. During egg freezing, the ovum retrieval takes place under a short general anaesthesia. It is an invasive process. Later, the ovum is stored at the bank; it can be stored for multiple years. 

The number of years the egg can survive depends largely on the quality of the freezing system. Chances of conception vary between 10 percent and 15 percent. Once the egg has been stored for five years, it needs to be reviewed before further storage.

The process takes 10-15 days from injecting hormones to stimulate ovulation, egg retrieval and preservation at minus 196 degree Celsius for future use.

For working women, the option of egg freezing comes as a huge relief, due to the challenges they face while making a living, attaining career goals and finding a suitable partner.

Egg freezing is now a healthy social choice, as it can be interpreted as another form of family planning for single women and couples alike. 

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