Biologically, a woman’s fertility declines in her 30s, but thanks to egg freezing, the ticking biological clock can be quietened. Egg freezing has become increasingly popular among women aged 21- 40. Some women opt for the procedure because they are not ready to have a baby and wish to preserve their fertility.
Others are undergoing treatment for an illness that requires chemotherapy. Egg freezing is recommended for women who want to preserve their fertility if they are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation; planning to have their ovaries removed because they carry a gene mutation that puts them at high risk of ovarian cancer, or are undergoing IVF with a partner and prefer not to freeze their embryos for ethical reasons such as having to determine whether to destroy leftover embryos in the future, explains fertility consultant, Dr Abayomi Ajayi.
In his weekend piece for Punch newspapers, Dr Abayomi explained further about egg freezing benefits, why it is a necessity for women who know that having a baby is part of their plan sooner or later.
Read his words below:
Each woman is born with around two million eggs; by the age of 30, 95 per cent of women have less than 15 per cent of their eggs left. There’s currently no treatment that will slow down the decline in the number of good quality eggs a woman has. The best is to get them out while the eggs are young and plentiful, and freeze them.
The procedure is carried out in a fertility clinic which offers counseling and information, including details about cost of the treatment.
A fertility doctor assesses your medical health and carries out a blood test to determine egg stock of the ovaries. You are given special drugs for around 10-12 days to stimulate your ovaries.
A dose of hormone is given to prompt the release of eggs. The doctor collects the eggs using a fine needle inserted via the vagina into the ovaries under conscious sedation. The eggs are then frozen by the embryologist.
The frozen eggs can be stored for up to 10 years in liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees centigrade. When it is time to have a baby, the egg is thawed slowly with a carefully controlled drop in temperature before being warmed up again. After being injected with sperm, the resultant embryo is then inserted into your uterus. If the technique is successful, you become pregnant as normal.
If you are waiting for a long-term partner or for one reason or another you need to delay motherhood, you can freeze your eggs. Some women freeze their eggs because they have a medical condition or are undergoing treatment that affects their fertility.
Women diagnosed with cancer who require chemotherapy and/or pelvic radiation therapy that may affect fertility, or surgery that may cause damage to the ovaries are potential beneficiaries of egg freezing.
However, the procedure can generally be used by women who aren’t ready or able to have children and want the chance of conceiving in the future.
Egg freezing allows you to use eggs from a younger version of yourself to conceive and have your own biological children. It involves extraction, freezing and storage of the eggs as a method to preserve your reproductive potential.
Your chances of conceiving naturally fall as you get older because the quality and number of eggs drops. Egg freezing is an attempt at preserving fertility by freezing the eggs when you are young and your eggs are of the highest quality.
The best time to freeze your eggs is before age 35, because that is when you are most fertile. At this age you would need to freeze between 15 and 25 eggs.
But can you actually have a baby from your eggs after freezing them? The answer is yes. It’s best for a woman to freeze her eggs before she’s 35 years old to ensure the highest rate of success. Even then, babies produced with frozen eggs are as normal as babies born with fresh eggs.
According to age-specific success rates, the age at which eggs are frozen obviously makes a difference. For freezing to be useful, it should be done when you still have healthy, high-quality eggs. The chances of success will likely lessen when you are older. If you must freeze your eggs, know what the technology entails. The success rate of when the egg is thawed is different from the success rate of the egg becoming a baby. The success rate for the egg to come alive when thawed and the success rate of the thawed egg becoming a baby is the success rate of the age group of the woman whose egg was frozen.
It is the age at which the eggs were frozen that determines the efficacy of the eggs when they are thawed.