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Egg Freezing

Egg Freezing

Oocyte cryopreservation commonly known as egg freezing is storing a woman’s unfertilized eggs to be fertilized and transferred in the future. It is a way of preserving the possibility of fertility in women who are not able to become pregnant straight away, or whose fertility is at risk for medical reasons such as cancer treatment.

Frozen eggs may be stored for many years without significant deterioration. When the woman is ready to use her eggs, they are thawed and subsequently fertilized with sperm. It is always better if the oocytes for cryopreservation (egg freezing) are at a stage when the eggs are frozen we call the mature oocyte cryopreservation The aim is for the fertilized egg to develop into an embryo, which can then be transferred to the woman’s uterus in the hope of implantation and pregnancy.

 

What is involved in the egg freezing process scientifically known as mature oocyte cryopreservation?

To obtain eggs for freezing, a woman will usually be given hormonal stimulation for 10 – 12 days, to induce her ovaries to mature more than the normal one egg. Our aim is reaching 6-15 eggs to mature. There are a variety of stimulation protocols available and the women can decide which option she prefers during a consultation with her fertility specialist.

 

The steps involved in the egg freezing process include the following:

Hormone stimulation

The woman is usually given hormone injections in order to stimulate egg maturation. The hormones are self-administered through a daily injection using a pen device which contains a small needle. Patients are taught how to self-administer the medication during their introductory consultation. There are no significant side effects of the treatment, but some women may feel a little bloated afterwards. Women can continue to carry out all their normal activities throughout their treatment period.

 

Egg collection

After a certain number of eggs are produced the eggs are collected from the ovaries using an ultrasound guided probe that is inserted into the vagina. A needle runs inside the probe and can be gently passed through the vaginal wall into each ovary allowing the doctor to remove the eggs from the ovary. The procedure is usually carried out under a light general anesthetic or with sedation. The patient can go home 1-2 hours after the procedure and is advised not to drive and to rest for the remainder of the day.

 

Vitrification

Once the eggs are collected, they are taken to the laboratory where they undergo a freezing procedure called vitrification. This process involves rapidly freezing the eggs using a procedure that extracts fluid from the eggs to prevent the development of any potentially damaging ice crystals from forming. Once the eggs are vitrified, they may be stored for many years.

 

Egg freezing success rates

Verification for egg freezing is a relatively new procedure and it is still too early to be able to give precise figures for the chance of fertilization and pregnancy after egg freezing. The chance of success is largely determined by the woman’s age at the time of freezing. Bedaya Hospital has so far seen success rates of 85 percent of the eggs maintaining their quality after verification.

 

The currently expected success rates for egg freezing;

For a woman aged 35 or under, one stimulated cycle and subsequent egg collection would result in the collection of around 10 – 12 eggs of which 7 – 9 would be suitable for verification and storage. Approximately 80-90% of the frozen eggs would survive thawing in the future. Approximately 50-80% of these surviving eggs would fertilize successfully. Approximately 80-90% of fertilized eggs would develop into embryos. A single embryo would have a 40-50-% chance of developing into a successful pregnancy

Success rates are lower for women over age 35 and egg freezing in women over the age of 38 is unlikely to lead to a pregnancy.

 

AMH and its role in successful egg freezing

A rough estimate for expected success of the procedure can be determined from an initial patient assessment. An estimation for quantity and quality of eggs in the ovaries can be determined with an ultrasound sonography and by using a blood test to test for the level of a hormone called anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH). The AMH test can provide insight into the quantity of eggs remaining, although it does not give information about the quality of the eggs. A high AMH level indicates many eggs are present and a low AMH level indicates a low number of eggs are present.

It is important to note that egg freezing cannot guarantee a future pregnancy and birth of a healthy baby.

 

Can you freeze eggs if you have low AMH?

Egg freezing is a reasonable option for younger women with low AMH levels, due to premature ovarian failure. These patients would be expected to have good egg quantity and quality because of their age but due to reasons mainly unknown go through menopause early. These patients are advised to store eggs as soon as possible to have a chance to get pregnant in the future. Genetic factors may play a role in women going through premature ovarian failure.

 

Who might consider egg freezing?

You might consider egg freezing. If you have a low AMH, if your fertility is at risk due to a serious illness such as cancer; or because you are not in a position to have a baby at this specific time in your life and would like the opportunity to start a family at a later age when natural ways of conceiving are less likely.