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IVF » In vitro fertilization

Is Egg Freezing the New Alternative to Surrogacy?

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Oocyte cryopreservation is the technical term for freezing a woman’s eggs. This concept has gained quite a bit of popularity in recent times.

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So much so that Apple and Facebook announced ‘Egg Freezing’ as an employee perk for women in 2014.

The average age of first pregnancy in American women has risen from 22 in 1980 to 26 in 2014. Women no longer like to bow down to the societal notion of needing a baby to complete their identities. Freezing eggs is an option that lets them put their choices in neat rows, and make more informed decisions, both for themselves and their future children.

However, oocyte preservation doesn’t guarantee a successful pregnancy. It could lead to serious complications. And despite being the center of discussions around infertility in women, surrogacy, and late pregnancies, often very little about the actual procedure sees the light of open conversations.

How Does Egg-Freezing Take Shape?

It begins with a complete fertility assessment, including analysis of the woman’s menstrual cycle, her blood work, family history, and hormone levels.

The doctors aim to collect as many eggs as possible to increase the chances of successful pregnancy. Since the ovaries can only release one egg per month, the woman goes through a set of hormone treatments. The ovaries are spurred into action so that they release more eggs via regular injections.

Other than increasing the egg population, the procedure also involves injecting the woman with gonadotropin-releasing hormones to prevent ovulation from occurring in the initial phase of her menstrual cycle.

Once she’s set, a human chorionic gonadotropin is injected into her veins to trigger ovulation. After assessing the situation of eggs and ovulation through ultrasound, the ripened eggs are extracted via a needle. However, surgery may be needed in case ultrasound isn’t helping to locate the eggs.

After extraction, the eggs are frozen immediately. To prevent the water content in the eggs from turning into dangerous crystals, doctors inject them with a solution right before freezing the eggs. The solution is meant to counter the crystal-formation.

The Immediate Effects of Oocyte Cryopreservation on Women

Egg freezing involves a round of IVF in the future when the woman decides to have a baby with her frozen eggs. IVF is expensive. Plus, it is a grueling process. The body changes could range from mild discomfort to immobilizing pain.

During the period leading up to oocyte extraction, the woman gets injected with different hormones for various purposes- womb lining stabilization, ovary stimulation, triggering ovulation, etc.

The body of every woman goes through a different experience during this procedure. Many may find it difficult to move around, get cramps with intense belly pain, or face terrible morning sickness for 7-10 days. They also have to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes along with such a procedure.

Egg Harvesting and Freezing Could Be Painful- Be Prepared

The concept of keeping healthy eggs on hold to be turned into babies when the woman deems fit is of incredible assistance to women. However, at present, it’s possible for cases of oocyte cryopreservation to turn out to be more trouble than they are worth. And like any IVF procedure, it gives out no guarantees.

Egg freezing is going to gain the position of a common subject of conversation in the coming times. The urgency of the moment is to make it more transparent, especially about the physical and emotional brunt that women stand to face with this procedure.

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