Recent advances in oocyte cryopreservation (“egg freezing”) techniques have greatly improved the ability for frozen eggs to survive thawing, and result in a healthy pregnancy. This is great news for women who are considering egg cryopreservation as a way to secure their future fertility, so they do not feel biological pressure to have children before a certain age. As many women are choosing to start their families later in life, they can be proactive by booking a ‘fertility check-up’, and exploring the option of egg freezing.
What is Egg Freezing?
In order to retrieve eggs for freezing, a patient undergoes the same hormone-injection process as women do with in-vitro fertilization. The only difference is that once the eggs are retrieved, the eggs are frozen (or “banked”) for future use. They can then be “warmed”, fertilized and transferred at a later date.
It takes approximately 4 – 6 weeks to complete the egg freezing cycle. This includes 10 – 14 days of hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries and develop multiple, mature eggs. As with IVF, the patient would visit the Clinic regularly throughout this period for early morning ultrasounds and blood work. Once it has been determined that the eggs have adequately matured, a retrieval procedure is scheduled in order to have them removed with a needle that is placed through the vagina using ultrasound guidance. This procedure is done under conscious sedation and is not generally painful. The eggs are then immediately frozen using a technique called cryopreservation.
When the patient is ready to have a child (this can be several, even many years later), the eggs are first thawed, then fertilized by injecting a single sperm into its cytoplasm, before being transferred into the uterus as an embryo.