How Does Egg Freezing Work

How Does Egg Freezing Work

by DR. VINITA KHEMANI

Posted on 2nd October, 2023 at 7:35:22 PM


Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is a fertility preservation technique that involves extracting a woman’s eggs and freezing them at a very low temperature (-196°C) for later use. This allows the woman to delay pregnancy and childbirth while increasing the likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy in the future.

Egg freezing involves four main stages:

1. Ovarian Stimulation

To increase the chances of success, multiple eggs are needed for freezing. Before starting the procedure, the woman undergoes a series of hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This process can take about 10 to 14 days and is closely monitored by the fertility specialist to prevent any complications.

2. Egg Retrieval

Once the eggs have matured, the woman undergoes an egg retrieval procedure, which is usually performed under sedation or general anesthesia. The fertility specialist uses an ultrasound-guided needle to extract the matured eggs from the ovaries. This process usually takes about 20-30 minutes.

3. Freezing

The extracted eggs are then frozen using a process called vitrification. This process involves rapidly cooling the eggs to prevent the formation of ice crystals, which can damage the eggs. The frozen eggs are then stored in a cryopreservation facility until they are needed.

4. Thawing and Fertilization

When the woman is ready to use her frozen eggs, they are thawed and fertilized in a lab. The fertilized eggs are then transferred into the woman’s uterus in a process called in vitro fertilization (IVF). If the process is successful, the woman can become pregnant.

Benefits of Egg Freezing

Egg freezing can be an excellent option for women who want to preserve their fertility for personal or medical reasons. Some of the benefits include:

Delaying childbearing: Women who want to focus on their careers, education, or personal life can delay having children without compromising their fertility.

Medical reasons: Women undergoing cancer treatment, which can cause infertility, can preserve their fertility by freezing their eggs before starting treatment.

Genetic conditions: Women with a genetic condition that can affect fertility can freeze their eggs to preserve their fertility.

Infertility treatments: Women undergoing fertility treatments can freeze their eggs to preserve them for future use.

Risks of Egg Freezing

Like all medical procedures, egg freezing has some risks. These include:

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): This condition can occur when the ovaries overreact to the hormone injections used in the egg retrieval process. Bloating, abdominal pain, and nausea are common symptoms.

Risks during egg retrieval: The egg retrieval process carries risks such as bleeding, infection, and damage to the bladder, bowel, or blood vessels.

Fertility Success: While there is no guarantee that the frozen eggs will result in a successful pregnancy, the success rates vary based on the age at which the eggs were frozen, and the quantity and quality of eggs frozen.

Final words

Egg freezing is a viable option for women who want to preserve their fertility for future use. While it carries some risks, the benefits of egg freezing are significant. If you’re considering egg freezing, talk to your OB-GYN or fertility specialist. Learn more about its process, potential outcomes, and how you should get started.

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