Bhubaneswar, Sept 13: In recent years advancements in reproductive technology have given women the opportunity to exercise greater control over their bodies and reproductive choices. One such advancement that has gained significant attention is egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation.
Egg freezing allows women to freeze their eggs, preserving their fertility and providing them with the flexibility to start a family at a time that aligns with their personal and professional goals. Egg freezing offers numerous benefits and has become an empowering choice for women around the world.
In recent years India has witnessed a significant increase in the popularity of egg freezing, with more women opting for this procedure to secure their future fertility. Here's how Obstetrician and Gynecologist Dr. Sujata Kar says:
What is Egg Freezing?
Egg freezing, otherwise known as cryopreservation is essentially the process of retrieval of eggs from the woman's ovaries and freezing them at a temperature of -196° Celsius in liquid nitrogen for later use when the woman feels she is ready for conception and pregnancy. These eggs that are frozen are good for use and are not compromised in quality for up to many years after the freezing process is done.
Why Egg Freezing?
Social Egg Freezing-Social freezing means egg storing of a healthy, fertile woman, in order to have a pregnancy later in her life, i.e. at the age of 45 to 50, it should ideally be performed on women around 25 years of age in order to increase their chances of a future pregnancy As women age, the quantity and quality of their eggs decline, making it more challenging to conceive naturally. By freezing their eggs at a younger age, women can retain the higher quality eggs that they possess at that time, effectively preserving their fertility potential for the future. This empowers women to pursue their careers, education, or personal goals without the pressure of a ticking biological clock.
Egg Freezing for Cancer- Women in the early reproductive age group may suffer from various kinds of cancer like breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, leukaemia etc. Women with cancer often opt to have their eggs frozen since chemotherapy, radio therapy and treatment tend to affect their fertility.
Non-Cancerous Medical Reasons- Women who have been diagnosed with moderate to severe endometriosis, can opt to freeze their eggs to preserve their future fertility options.
Egg Freezing Process-
The process begins with an initial consultation with a fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist. During this consultation, the medical history and fertility goals of the individual are discussed. Once the decision to proceed with egg freezing is made, the individual will start a process called ovarian stimulation which involves the use of fertility medications, typically injectables, to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. After stimulation of the ovary and continuous monitoring for some period of time the egg retrieval procedure done.
Once the eggs are retrieved, they are immediately taken to the laboratory for processing. The eggs are assessed for maturity and quality. They are then cryopreserved through a process called vitrification, which involves rapidly cooling the eggs to extremely low temperatures to prevent ice crystal formation and maintain their viability. When the individual is ready to use their frozen eggs, they can undergo a procedure called thawing. The eggs are carefully thawed in the laboratory and assessed for viability. The thawed eggs can then be fertilized with sperm through in vitro fertilization (IVF), and the resulting embryos can be transferred to the uterus for potential pregnancy.
Cost of Egg Freezing-
On average, the cost of egg freezing in India can range from ₹1,00,000 to ₹ 1,50,000, which is the cost of one-time egg retrieval and freezing. However, the recurrent annual fee for storing the frozen eggs has to be paid to the clinic. The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021 regulates all ART procedures, including egg freezing in India.
Indian society is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of reproductive choices and family planning. The cultural acceptance of egg freezing has grown and this acceptance fosters a supportive environment for women considering egg freezing, encouraging them to take control of their fertility and pursue their aspirations without compromising their desire to have children in the future.
As the demand for egg freezing continues to rise, ongoing advancements in medical technology and research are expected to further improve success rates and enhance the overall procedure. Continued research and innovation will make egg freezing even more accessible and reliable, offering women greater options and opportunities for family planning. This process has both pros and cons which should be taken into consideration by the women. Most importantly a consultation from the fertility expert is absolutely necessary before taking any decision.