Women as we speak are selecting to have youngsters later in life than ever earlier than. Egg freezing, technically referred to as oocyte cryopreservation, can allow a lady to delay being pregnant till a later stage.
In the United Kingdom, the variety of women having youngsters over the age of 40 years has tripled since 1980. In 2016, extra British women over 40 years previous gave delivery than these youthful than 20 years previous. In the United States, 2.3 percent of all births are to women aged 40 to 44 years.
Society could also be altering, however the organic realities of fertility stay the identical. Most women enter menopause of their late 40s or early 50s. In the years earlier than menopause, a lady’s fertility declines. Although the life expertise of an older lady might imply she is nicely outfitted to be a mom, conceiving isn’t as straightforward as it’s for a youthful lady.
Women who’re contemplating freezing their eggs must be conscious that profitable pregnancies are less common with frozen eggs than with recent eggs. However, using frozen eggs can supply a hope of conceiving sooner or later, when beforehand it was unattainable.
What is egg freezing?
As a lady ages, the standard of her eggs tends to decline; the eggs might include extra chromosomal abnormalities, and after menopause, women will not ovulate.
Frozen eggs can be utilized in future for IVF.
If a lady needs a toddler however just isn’t in a position or prepared now, she will have her eggs frozen to be used at a later date.
Before the egg-freezing course of begins, a physician will take a complete fertility historical past, assess a lady’s menstrual cycle, and do blood work to assess hormone ranges.
A lady’s ovaries often launch only one egg per 30 days. The fewer eggs there can be found to freeze, the less possibilities there are of profitable being pregnant.
In order to maximize the variety of out there eggs, a lady will bear hormone remedy to stimulate her ovaries to produce extra eggs. This remedy usually requires a lady to inject herself with hormones at house, from 1 to three occasions a day.
Most women will even take birth control drugs for no less than a month earlier than having the hormone injections. This suppresses the pure cycle, and it will increase the probability that the hormones will work.
The quantity and sort of hormones given varies from lady to lady.
Treatment will usually embrace:
- Around 2 weeks of injections with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone, which inspires the ovaries to produce extra eggs
- An injection of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) about midway via the cycle, which prevents ovulation from occurring too early within the cycle
- An injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to set off ovulation
A physician will carry out common blood work to assess the consequences of hormone remedies. The lady may even have no less than one ultrasound to detect ovulation and to assess egg improvement.
Liquid nitrogen is used to retailer frozen eggs.
When the eggs ripen, the physician will insert a needle into the lady’s ovarian follicles to retrieve the eggs. The physician will usually use ultrasound to information the process, but when the eggs usually are not seen by way of ultrasound, the physician might carry out stomach surgical procedure to take away them.
With this extra invasive strategy, the physician will make a small incision within the lady’s stomach to insert a needle and extract the eggs. The lady could have been sedated and acquired ache treatment.
Once the eggs have been retrieved, they’ll want to be frozen as quickly as attainable. The eggs are filled with water, which may flip into damaging ice crystals if the eggs are frozen instantly. To forestall this, the physician injects a particular answer into the eggs earlier than freezing them.
When the lady is prepared to use her eggs, she is going to bear in vitro fertilization (IVF).
With IVF, the egg is fertilized in a lab, utilizing sperm both from the lady’s companion or from a donor. If the process works, the egg and sperm become an embryo that’s implanted into the lady’s uterus a couple of days later. Most fertility clinics attempt to develop a number of embryos directly to improve the probabilities of a profitable being pregnant.
Who ought to think about freezing their eggs?
Younger women have considerably greater egg-freezing success charges than older women do. Women who want to have their eggs frozen ought to achieve this as early as potential. Most clinics work with women underneath 40 years previous. Some clinics place restrictions on women of their 40s, and few will permit women over the age of 45 to freeze their eggs.
There are not any ensures that frozen eggs will lead to a reside delivery. The probability of every frozen egg main to a reside start is between 2 and 12 percent. Factors resembling uterine health, age, and general health have an effect on a lady’s probability of turning into pregnant.
Some causes women freeze their eggs embrace:
- Career and academic plans: Women who want to pursue superior levels or demanding careers might freeze their eggs when they’re younger to guarantee entry to wholesome eggs when they’re older.
- Romantic delays: Women who need to have a toddler with a associate, however who haven’t but discovered one, might freeze their eggs for future use.
- Cancer: Chemotherapy and different cancer remedies sometimes destroy fertility. Reproductive cancers may imply a lady’s ovaries are eliminated.
- Infections, organ failure, and different health considerations: A variety of health issues can hurt egg high quality.
Freezing eggs provides future hope to a lady who’s receiving remedy for a critical sickness which will scale back fertility.
Costs and unwanted side effects
Freezing eggs might be costly, and most insurance policy don’t cowl the process.
A single cycle can value upwards of $10,000. Other prices embrace storage of the eggs and IVF, which might value a further $5,000.
After egg retrieval, some women might expertise cramping, bloating, and recognizing. Other undesirable unwanted side effects embrace weight achieve, bloating, temper swings, and headaches, that are brought on by the additional hormones that the women have been given.
In uncommon instances, egg stimulation may cause a situation often known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (HSS). The results of HSS can embrace ache, nausea, and vital weight achieve of maybe 30 to 40 kilos in a couple of days. Very not often, HSS might set off blood clots within the legs and shortness of breath.
Will frozen eggs assist me to get pregnant?
Data on pregnancies ensuing from frozen eggs is combined. A small review of egg-thawing knowledge discovered that 414 eggs thawed in 2013 resulted in 99 stay births, which means that barely fewer than 1 in four instances have been profitable. Research additionally means that frozen eggs are much less possible to produce a being pregnant than recent eggs.
This means that women may have to bear a number of IVF cycles to turn out to be pregnant.
Factors that have an effect on the success of egg freezing and thawing procedures embrace:
- The age of the lady when her eggs are frozen: Younger women have a tendency to produce extra eggs, that are much less probably to have defects
- The age of the lady on the time of egg thawing and IVF: Younger women are extra doubtless to have profitable pregnancies
- Sperm high quality: Healthy sperm is extra doubtless to produce a wholesome embryo and a profitable being pregnant
- The clinic: The success charges of freezing and thawing eggs range between clinics
- The variety of eggs frozen: A bigger variety of eggs presents extra alternatives for IVF cycles
How lengthy will frozen eggs final?
Freezing an egg stops it from getting old. A frozen egg that may be a few years previous will sometimes be more healthy than a recent egg from an older lady.
Most studies on frozen eggs checked out eggs that have been just some months previous. It stays unclear how lengthy eggs can safely be frozen.
Most researchers recommend that a lady ought to freeze her eggs when she is in her mid-to-late 20s, to be used in her 30s. Women who’re contemplating IVF sooner or later shouldn’t delay any longer than crucial.
According to the University of Southern California’s fertility clinic, about 75 percent of eggs survive the thawing course of.
Embryos are more likely to survive each freezing and thawing than eggs, and they’re extra probably to end in a profitable being pregnant. If a lady has a associate, or if she intends to use donor sperm, she ought to think about freezing embryos quite than simply eggs.