More and more women are choosing to start or expand their families later in life. They are either obtaining advanced degrees, pursuing successful careers, or are still single and looking for the right guy. But as women move closer and closer to menopause, chances of conceiving are reduced due to a variety of reasons, including slowly diminishing egg quality.
Freezing eggs and using them later offers women the opportunity to take control of their own biological clock, at least for the next 5 years of her life.
Treatment typically starts on the second or third day of menstruation and consists of a regimen of fertility medications to stimulate the development of multiple follicles in the ovaries. Depending on the treatment protocol, this may mean anywhere from 1 to 2 shots every day, for about 7 to 10 days. During this time, the patient would be assessed through ultrasound tests to analyse the development of the follicles and blood tests to check the hormone levels.
The eggs are retrieved from the patient using a transvaginal technique involving a very thin ultrasound-guided needle to reach the ovaries. The number of eggs retrieved depends on how the patient has reacted to the fertility medication. The procedure takes about 15 minutes and is done under sedation. The collected eggs are then frozen using the latest flash-freeze method called vitrification. This process does very little damage to the eggs, and can keep the eggs in storage for years until the woman decides to use them for conception.
The patient will need to undergo in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to use those eggs. Therefore, once the patient is ready to get pregnant, the eggs are thawed and then fertilized using ICSI, an assisted reproductive technology that injects one sperm directly into the egg. The embryos (fertilized eggs) will then be transferred into the woman’s uterus (womb) in order to achieve a pregnancy.