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Egg Freezing Overview​

Choosing when to have a baby on your terms.

What Is Egg Freezing?

Egg freezing is a procedure by which a woman’s eggs (oocytes) are harvested, frozen and stored to preserve the reproductive potential of the woman even in the face of increasing age. This process is also known as Oocyte Cryopreservation.

Fertility Female – The Biology

To start with, you must understand your own biology. Understanding your fertility biology, with particular regard to the changes that occur throughout your lifetime, is critical to comprehending the process egg cryopreservation.

 

Age and Fertility – The Biological Clock

Age is essentially the most important factor influencing a woman’s ability to conceive and deliver a healthy baby.

The female reproductive life begins at menarche – the first menstrual period which occurs approximately around age 12 – after which fertility increases as she grows older; most women reach their peak fertility rates between the ages of 23 and 30.

 

However, as the age of a woman increases further, there is a not only corresponding decrease in fertility but also a steep increase in the rate of decline above the age of 35.

According to estimates by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine [1], there is about a 25% chance of natural conception during each ovulation cycle for women under 30 years of age. The odds drop to about 20% for women over 30 years and to just about 5% at age 40.

  

Just as a decline is observed in the rate of natural conception, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is similarly affected; the odds of having a baby with IVF decreases with increasing age.

 

In 2010, U.S National statistics showed that the percentage of embryo transfers that resulted in a live-birth reduced as the age of the women increased.

Woman Age Success Rates

Two important factors modulate and affect female fertility

The Quantity Of Eggs

The Quality Of Eggs

 

As a woman is born, grows and ages, her eggs age with her, resulting in a decline in both the quantity and the quality of the eggs.

Quantity Of Eggs

As opposed to men – who produce sperm cells in their billions – a woman is infused with all the eggs she will have throughout her lifetime even right before she is born.

The maximum number of oocytes attained is 6–7 million and it occurs between 16-20 weeks of pregnancy in the female fetus; this number decreases naturally and progressively as the baby girl is born and grows;

·        1-2 million at birth

·        300,000-500,000 at onset of puberty

·        25,000 around age 35

·        1,000 at menopause

Note: Not all potential eggs (follicles) mature and eventually get released from the ovaries during ovulation, only about 400 eggs will be ovulated over the years of a woman’s reproductive life

Quality Of Eggs

Just as every cell in the body is susceptible to age-related degeneration and weakening due to various factors such as; infections, stress, radiation, toxins, free radicals; so are the eggs no matter how healthy the lifestyle a woman maintains.

 

In this context, the egg quality refers to the genetic composition of the eggs; an egg is either genetically normal (euploid) or not (aneuploid). As a woman ages, there is a corresponding decrease in the proportion of normal eggs compared to abnormal ones. [2]

Probability-of-retrieving-at-least-one-euploid-embryo-in-a-cohort-of-embryos-from-women

Another study [3] corroborating the phenomenon of age-rated decline in egg quality has shown that as the female eggs ages, an important DNA repair mechanism which functions to restore egg vitality begins to break down resulting into a reduction in the efficacy of the repair mechanism consequently a resultant egg damage.

Decreased egg quality causes all sorts of mishaps, such as; inability to conceive, implantation failure, miscarriages or children born with genetic abnormalities e.g. Down syndrome.

 

Even in egg freezing, the main factor that determines the chance of a successful fertilization during re-use of the frozen eggs is the age of the woman when the eggs were collected.

 

Surely, the fertility of women decreases as they grow older!

 

Why Freeze Your Eggs? – Egg freezing stops the biological clock!

The ultimate goal of egg freezing is to preserve fertility for the future.

For some social and/or personal (non-medical) reasons, a woman might decide to stop her biological clock.

According to a renowned study carried out by experts in the New York University [4], the most common reason why women freeze their eggs is the unavailability of a partner (a non-medical reason); others being for financial, professional and committal reasons.

 

In some cases, undesirable medical conditions may warrant cryopreservation of eggs. Medical reasons for egg freezing include:

·        Surgical procedures, Chemotherapy and/or Radiotherapy that may affect fertility via causing damage to the ovaries.

·        Risk of premature ovarian failure due to chromosomal abnormalities (e.g. Fragile X syndrome).

·        A family history of early menopause.

·        Ovarian disease with risk of damage to the ovaries.

·        Genetic mutations necessitating removal of the ovaries (e.g. BRCA mutation).

 

How Safe Is The Egg Freezing Process?

The process of retrieving eggs for cryopreservation is similar to and no more invasive than the first phase of IVF (Ovarian Stimulation For IVF).

Associated risks are minimal some of which include little chances of infection, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (enlargement of the ovaries and fluid within the pelvis & abdomen) and bleeding associated with the egg retrieval process.

 

For the babies, it’s as safe as normal.

Over 5,000 babies have been born from cryopreserved eggs till date. The largest study ever published on babies from frozen eggs [5] showed no increased rate of birth defects when compared with that of the general population. This study was carried out with over 900 babies from frozen eggs. Additional results from one study showed no increased rates of chromosomal defects between embryos derived from frozen eggs compared to embryos derived from fresh eggs. Yet another study showed that pregnancy complications were not increased after egg freezing.

 

Ferny’s development of the most up-to-date cryopreservation methods for our patients and our continuous improvements in protocols and techniques has achieved the highest levels of success in pregnancies from oocyte cryopreservation over the last decade. In 2017, we were responsible for a successful pregnancy following 13 years of embryo cryopreservation at our facility.

As a woman, you don’t have to worry about the running clock, you can control it. 

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