Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is a fertility preservation technique that involves extracting a woman’s eggs and freezing them at a very low temperature (-196°C) for later use. This allows the woman to delay pregnancy and childbirth while increasing the likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy in the future.
Egg freezing involves four main stages:
To increase the chances of success, multiple eggs are needed for freezing. Before starting the procedure, the woman undergoes a series of hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This process can take about 10 to 14 days and is closely monitored by the fertility specialist to prevent any complications.
Once the eggs have matured, the woman undergoes an egg retrieval procedure, which is usually performed under sedation or general anesthesia. The fertility specialist uses an ultrasound-guided needle to extract the matured eggs from the ovaries. This process usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
The extracted eggs are then frozen using a process called vitrification. This process involves rapidly cooling the eggs to prevent the formation of ice crystals, which can damage the eggs. The frozen eggs are then stored in a cryopreservation facility until they are needed.
When the woman is ready to use her frozen eggs, they are thawed and fertilized in a lab. The fertilized eggs are then transferred into the woman’s uterus in a process called in vitro fertilization (IVF). If the process is successful, the woman can become pregnant.
Egg freezing can be an excellent option for women who want to preserve their fertility for personal or medical reasons. Some of the benefits include:
Like all medical procedures, egg freezing has some risks. These include:
Egg freezing is a viable option for women who want to preserve their fertility for future use. While it carries some risks, the benefits of egg freezing are significant. If you’re considering egg freezing, talk to your OB-GYN or fertility specialist. Learn more about its process, potential outcomes, and how you should get started.