WHAT IS OOCYTE CRYOPRESERVATION OR EGG FREEZING?
Oocyte cryopreservation or Egg freezing is a procedure to preserve a woman’s eggs /oocytes. This technique is helpful in enabling women to postpone pregnancy to a later date. Women consider this procedure because of medical reasons such as cancer treatment or social reasons such as professional development.
HOW AND WHEN DID EGG FREEZING INITIATE:
Egg freezing has played an essential role in assisted reproductive technique for many decades. The first live birth from oocyte cryopreservation happened three decades ago since then oocyte cryopreservation has become an integral component of ART. With the advent of vitrification, cryopreservation techniques have evolved, which has led to higher success rates and also introduced oocyte cryopreservation into IVF clinics worldwide. There has been an increase in social egg-freezing due to patient demand; this has allowed women to preserve their fertility in awareness against age-related fertility decline.
EGG FREEZING IN INDIA:
The first pregnancy and birth in India after the transfer of embryos generated from frozen-thawed oocytes happened in 2008. It was in a 29-year-old woman who had previous bad obstetric history and an abnormal karyotype, necessitating donor oocyte program. Embryos were created by microinjection of frozen-thawed sperm into thawed oocytes. This resulted in a healthy male baby with a birth weight of 2.54 kg. The baby was born by cesarean section at 35–36 weeks of gestation with regular follow-up. Thus, oocyte cryopreservation can be performed with much success leading to a normal healthy baby.
WHO SHOULD CONSIDER FREEZING THEIR EGGS?
As per experts, “Egg freezing is for women who want to delay childbirth due to demanding jobs, diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment.” A woman is most fertile in her 20s, and fertility starts to decline once she reaches the age of 30. There is a drastic decline observed after the age of 35. It’s not only the number of eggs, but also their quality that deteriorates.
“Two-third of the women suffer from issues related to fertility post crossing the age of 35 because of less quantity of eggs. The sooner a woman considers this procedure, the better it is for the desired results. The ideal time is the late twenties or early thirties to improve the chances of having a baby later. With the increase in age, the quality and the quantity of one’s eggs declines. If a woman wants to have her eggs frozen after the age of 35, it may still be considered, but the chances of those eggs being viable are low.
Details of the procedure: When someone considers oocyte cryopreservation, quality of the ovary and the number of eggs available are tested first through an AMH test. Next is the preparation phase, which is similar to that for an IVF procedure. Where the ovaries are stimulated via the use of hormones to produce eggs. The candidate is given FSH hormone injections for almost 9-10 days, and once the follicles attain the right size, the eggs are retrieved under general anaesthesia. The number of eggs retrieved is usually 20-30. This is to ensure that even if 6 to 8 eggs are thawed at once, at least three IVF procedures can be performed with those. The eggs are then frozen. The eggs can be frozen for any number of years, though most people use them within five years or so. Also, a yearly cost is levied for freezing the eggs.
CELEBRITIES AND EGG FREEZING
Many women are choosing to freeze their eggs in their twenties and thirties in the hope of having a baby when they are ready for motherhood.
According to the latest researches egg freezing is going “way up” in popularity. Good news for those who are working their sweat and blood in multinational companies as few of them like Apple and Google now compensate their employees for freezing their eggs, which is expected to become more widespread eventually.
CELEBRITIES WHO OPENED UP ABOUT FREEZING THEIR EGGS ARE
The Bachelorette star Kaitlyn announced on Twitter in early March that she’s freezing her eggs. “I’m taking control of my future, as a woman, there’s always pressure to have babies, and this puts my mind at ease for when I am ready.” Later she disclosed to Media that this is a “backup plan” for her and her fiancé, Shawn Booth. The couple doesn’t have any kid as of now, but they are planning to have 5. Optimism at its best.
Olivia Munn, the actress, said she “froze a bunch of eggs. The actress also revealed that”I turned 35, then you’re high risk,”. I think that every girl should do it. For one, you don’t have to race the clock any more. You don’t have to worry about it, worry about your job or anything. It’s there.” She added, “It’s also just like, why not do it because I see so many women who go through this. Doomsday is now like whatever day because I am prepared.”
INDIAN CELEBRITIES WHO OPTED EGG FREEZING:
Former Miss World Diana Hayden was among the first celebrities to pave the path of millions of young, ambitious women by having her eggs frozen when she was enjoying her mid-30s. Thanks to the advancement of technology at the age of 42, Diana was able to become a mother. She didn’t stop just there; this beauty went on having twin children two years after that.
On how she made this decision, she said, “I happened to come across some material about egg freezing. It was mainly being used in the USA and Australia by women who have cancer, as it allowed them to have children after overcoming the disease. I had no idea that it was being pioneered in India. After a few meetings with experts and lots of questions, I was sure that this was what I wanted to do. I had my eggs frozen 11 years back, at the age of 34,” Diana says.
Badminton player Jwala Gutta had revealed that she was considering oocyte cryopreservation and said,” To avoid worrying about her ticking biological clock while in the prime of her career. I believe that the procedure is a “smart move” for ambitious women. It gives me the security that I can start a family a little later. Having children is a great responsibility, and I don’t want to have kids while I am still playing. When I have children, I want to be with them. I have already discussed the pros and cons of the procedure with my doctor, and I’m very much convinced.”
Until recently Film and Television producer Ekta Kapoor welcomed a baby boy via surrogacy on 27th January 2019 using her own eggs which she had preserved eight years ago. She had tried multiple IUI and IVF cycles on her before resorting to surrogacy.
Social egg freezing nowadays empowers women. It gives them confidence where they have control over their life and can claim their rights. They cannot be let down by social pressure to conceive when they are in the peak of their careers.
In today’s world, where ambition and necessities push the majority of the females to give their 100% to their jobs, egg freezing has emerged as a blessing. In most of the cases, women have to make a choice between their career and family, where majority ends up choosing family over their career due to the fear of not be able to have babies post 35. Now, like their male counterpart, females do not have to take setbacks in their careers in order to have an extension of their family. As per researches, the young generation is positive towards this procedure and more and more people are opting for this.
Oocyte preservation/Egg Freezing is gaining popularity and social acceptability. This rises as a ray of hope for many young women who are in need of balancing both their personal and professional life.