Just as more women choose to get married in their late 20s or early 30s for various reasons; they also choose to embrace motherhood far later in late 30s. Unfortunately, the biological clock keeps ticking. In such a scenario, egg freezing becomes an attractive solution for women choosing to delay pregnancy
Freezing eggs is liberating for women. It takes a lot of pressure off them. They can pursue their career goals at their own pace or take care of more immediate worries without the nagging fear of ‘running out of time.’ Photo Courtesy: iStock
Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra recently spoke about having frozen her eggs in her early 30s. The actress took advice from her mother, Dr Madhu Chopra who is an obstetrician-gynaecologist. In 2022, the former Miss World and her husband Nick Jonas underwent surrogacy and welcomed their daughter, Malti Marie Chopra Jonas.
Priyanka Chopra is not the only one to have frozen her eggs. Other celebrities like Ekta Kapoor, Tanishaa Mukerji, Mona Singh, Amy Schumer, Kim Kardashian, and many more too have frozen their eggs. They all agree that this scientific development is a true and valuable gift in their lives.
Just as women choose to get married in their late 20s or early 30s, for reasons like career, financial stability or finding the right partner, they also choose to embrace motherhood far later in their late 30s. “Unfortunately, the biological clock does not understand the concept of career or not finding the right partner,” says Dr Ritu Hinduja, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Mumbai. Fortunately, science has offered these women an optimum solution that enables them to freeze their eggs and protect them from the effects of ageing.
Besides career aspirations, Dr Hinduja points out other common reasons why women opt for freezing their eggs, which include taking cancer treatments, facing fertility-impairing conditions such as Endometriosis, and having late marriages.
What is Egg Freezing?
It is a process that enables women to delay their pregnancy and helps in preserving their fertility for the future when they plan to give birth to a baby. It involves extracting a woman’s eggs and freezing and storing them to preserve their reproductive potential for the future.
How is this advantageous for women?
Freezing eggs is liberating for women. It takes a lot of pressure off them. They can pursue their career goals at their own pace or take care of more immediate worries without the nagging fear of ‘running out of time.’
Dr Hinduja expands on more scientific advantages of freezing your eggs:
1. Once the eggs are frozen, the effects on them, of factors like growing age, chemotherapy/radiotherapy, and Endometriosis are almost zero.
2. It holds the fertility potential of the age at which the woman had chosen to freeze her eggs.
3. Frozen eggs can be thawed and fertilised with the husband’s/donor’s sperm whenever the woman decides to plan for a pregnancy.
What is the procedure and how long does it take?
The whole process is mainly of two stages, Dr Hinduja explains. The first one involves stimulation of the ovaries in order to get all follicles which are recruited in a particular cycle. This is then followed by extracting the eggs from the follicle, choosing the mature oocytes (eggs) and then freezing (cryopreserving) them.
The second stage involves thawing the eggs when the woman wishes to plan a pregnancy, fertilising them with the husband’s/donor's sperm, creating embryos, transferring the embryo, and freezing any supernumerary embryos left after the transfer.
It is important to note that before the actual egg-freezing process begins, a doctor will scrutinize the woman’s medical history to check her fertility, and the regularity of the menstrual cycle, and then carry out a range of blood tests to determine hormone levels.
The egg-freezing process starts on day two or three of the menses, followed by an average of 11-12 days required for stimulation. The egg is then retrieved on the 13th or 14th day of menstruation.
A single cycle of egg-freezing takes over 3 to 4 weeks. This includes taking birth control pills or other medication for a period of 1 to 2 weeks for altering the natural hormones. Following this, hormone injections are prescribed to be taken for 9 to 10 days for stimulating the ovaries and ripen multiple eggs.
Dr Hinduja suggests storing around 10 -13 eggs for one IVF/ ICSI cycle in the future. However, one must consult their fertility physician to check for the numbers that will work well for them.
When must a woman freeze her eggs?
The earlier a woman freezes her eggs the better will be the outcome. According to Dr Hindjua, women who opt to freeze their eggs before the age of 35 stand a higher chance of successful pregnancy than those who freeze their eggs after the age of 35. Those thinking of freezing their oocytes (eggs) should consult a fertility physician first and weigh their options accordingly.
A common doubt among women considering freezing their eggs is whether extracting eggs now would lead to the production of lesser eggs in the future. “No, retrieving eggs in one menstrual cycle does not affect the eggs in the future,” Dr Hinduja clarifies. “We only look at monthly withdrawals that the ovary makes from the corpus that it has. We don’t work on the corpus. Every month ovary withdraws a fresh set of eggs. If these are not retrieved they do not return to the corpus, they die after one egg is chosen to ovulate.”
The reliability, safety and success of egg-freezing
Dr Hinduja says, “The success rate of the procedure depends on the reason why egg freezing is done. It also largely depends on the age at which the woman chooses to cryopreserve (freeze) her oocytes (egg). Your fertility physician may advise for more than one egg retrieval procedure in a situation where less than desired eggs are retrieved or the quality of the eggs is not as desired.”
As women age, the quality and number of eggs decline. The technology of egg freezing offers an attractive option for women to conceive when one is planning for a pregnancy. Dr Hinduja concludes: “It is an extremely safe and proven procedure.”
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