Making babies in the modern world
Saturday, July 30th, 2016
Freezing eggs provides women with a chance to preserve their fertility.
The technology provides the option to prolong a woman’s fertility timeline to ensure that they don’t miss out on receiving all of the joys of motherhood. This can be achieved by capitalising on a woman’s prime window of healthy and quality eggs by preserving them externally, ensuring that whatever a woman’s age may be, she still has the opportunity to produce a healthy baby.
Reasons for fertility preservation
There may be a range of reasons to why women wish to preserve their fertility. The primary reason is social, for example women sometimes are not necessarily at a stage in their life to get pregnant due their career or other life priorities.
Furthermore, medical reasons such as cancer treatment may mean that egg freezing is essential for women who wish to protect the possibility of having children.
How it works
The technology of egg freezing has greatly evolved over the last 10 years to optimise success rates of healthy conception. Scientific and medical advancements have produced a new technology called vitrification, which has an extensive range of medical applications and is now applied to the freezing of eggs.
Traditionally in the olden days the method revolved around slow freezing of human eggs. This new vitrification technology enables dehydration which leads to less water retention in the egg, reducing the number of damaging ice crystals, and increasing the eggs survival rate to up to 85% - a great improvement on the 50% possibility with the older freezing techniques, which employ a more linear freezing method.
The increased survival rates of eggs which truly prove vitrification technology’s achievements, which now deliver a pregnancy rate of around 60% in women under the age of 35, for those that have at least 8 to 10 eggs frozen. The technology is still evolving, which should ensure an even greater degree of success in future.
Furthermore, statistics bear out that over half the number of IVF cycles are now performed with the aid of egg freezing, demonstrating the effectiveness of this technology when applied to patients.
A valuable technique which is often used in tandem with egg freezing is a process called ovarian hyper-stimulation, which utilises medicinal drugs used during IVF treatments to stimulate women’s ovaries to produce high egg quantities. Egg freezing is used during stimulation cycle intervals, providing the body an opportunity to rest.
Ovarian hyper-stimulation is also a positive technology for women with a poor ovarian reserve, collecting high numbers of eggs by freezing in cumulative cycles. This gives women a reasonable chance of pregnancy which is comparable to those with normal egg reserves.
Chances of Success
The chance of a successful pregnancy is based on two factors - firstly age and secondly ovarian reserve, both of which are key considerations for a patient’s potential to produce more eggs when given stimulation. If the patient is young and has a good ovarian reserve, the success rates are usually higher.
The older the patient, the quality of the eggs can be questioned because of the chromosomal abnormalities within the eggs.
The technology provides an opportunity to extend fertility and mitigate against a range of modern challenges, ensuring that every fertile woman has an opportunity to bear children.
By Dr. Monikaa Chawla
Specialist OB/GYN- IVF