Egg freezing is a new assisted breeding technique that enables women to freeze their eggs so they can choose when they want to become mothers. In Europe, several children have already been born through this process, which has similar success rates using non-frozen (fresh) eggs.
This technique will continue to be used more widely in the future because of the benefits it offers to a woman. First of all, with this method, a woman can maintain her fertility if she needs medical treatment that affects her (such as cancer chemotherapy). It also allows women to delay maternity while preserving the genetic material of their own oocytes.
As the woman’s fertility time passes, it is significantly reduced due to the aging of the ovaries. For this reason, the chance of becoming pregnant and getting a healthy child is significantly reduced. This is because women are born with a certain egg reserve which gradually decreases (in each cycle, about 1,000 eggs are lost and only about 10% of the reserve is left after age 35.
Also the quality of the oocytes decreases and it is not unusual for a woman between 38 and 40 years of age not to have more eggs available to give her a healthy baby because women’s age affects the process of producing ova leading to failed childbirth or chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome.
Freezing the eggs during the fertile period in a woman’s life allows us to overcome such problems by giving a better chance of getting a healthy child.
In which cases should a woman freeze her eggs?
- To maintain the fertility of either unmarried women until they find a suitable mate or couples who postpone childbirth for business reasons.
- Before treatment for cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation cause irreversible damage to the egg. The only way to maintain fertility is to freeze the eggs prior to treatment.
- Other medical reasons, such as removal of the ovaries.
- For moral reasons in an extracorporeal cycle when embryo freezing is against the wishes of the couple.To increase success rates in women with low egg reserves. All eggs are fertilized after several cycles of ovarian stimulation.
How to freeze eggs?
Initially, the eggs are harvested after appropriate hormonal stimulation of the ovaries. The eggs are then frozen at a very low temperature, avoiding the formation of crystals inside them. To achieve this, a large amount of specific cryopreservation fluid is used which protects the plasma membrane of the oocytes.
Later, when pregnancy is desired, eggs are thawed and fertilized. Embryo transfer is 2 to 3 days longer without the need for hormonal therapy.