#LetsTalkFertility: Could Egg Freezing Be Your Answer, Ladies?

Egg freezing allows the chance of pregnancy at a later time, but don’t forget factors like likelihood and costs. 

Updated
Her Health
4 min read
Egg freezing allows the chance of pregnancy at a later time, but don’t forget factors like likelihood and costs. 
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Recently, actor Mona Singh spoke about having frozen her eggs at the age of 34, so she could live her life and have kids when she and her husband are ready.

Who doesn’t love the idea of eternal youth? No ageing or wrinkling or creaking joints. But alas, things were not to be so for humans. Other than robbing you of your glistening youth and outward beauty, ageing has one more trick up its sleeve - raining on your fertility parade.

Infertility rate increases with age , according to a report by National Center for Biotechnology Information. Women in urban areas have a higher rate of infertility as compared to women in rural areas, adds the study.

Without medical aid, 75 percent of 30-year-olds get pregnant within a year of trying. The number falls to 66 percent for 35-year-olds and to 44 percent for 40-year-olds, concluded a study by the journal, Human Reproduction.

When all of this data is put together, it offers a seemingly formidable picture of fertility. Consequently, women over the years have been pushed into looking for back-ups plans. One such example is egg freezing.

#LetsTalkFertility: Could Egg Freezing Be Your Answer, Ladies?

  1. 1. What is Egg Freezing?

    Egg freezing refers to an invasive procedure of extracting eggs from a woman’s body and storing them in meticulously regulated conditions. This ensures that the eggs can be fertilised at a later time. Women who wish to have a baby eventually, but are not ready for it immediately, mostly opt for this method.

    Women who wish to have a baby eventually, but are not ready for it immediately, mostly opt for this method.
    Women who wish to have a baby eventually, but are not ready for it immediately, mostly opt for this method.
    (Photo: iStock)

    It is a complicated procedure, demanding both physically and emotionally, and requires wading through several fertility clinics and experts to find the most reliable and appropriate option for you. Additionally, it does not offer a full guarantee of pregnancy. The chances are higher depending on the age of the woman.

    Frozen eggs after the age of 40 have a less than 10 percent chance of translating in a healthy birth while those between 30 and 35 years have a 50 percent success rate.
    Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant Specialist, Cocoon Fertility

    Too caught up to read? Listen to the story:

    Expand
  2. 2. How Does It Work?

    Freezing your eggs is a long process spread over a couple of months. The first month consists of blood tests and ultrasounds to check the viability of eggs and if your body is suitable for the procedure.

    If all goes well in this month, this is followed by two-week worth of medication to prepare you for the subsequent procedure - the retrieval of the egg. The medication period allows the doctor to monitor the egg development.

    The egg harvest procedure takes place around the time of your ovulation.
    The egg harvest procedure takes place around the time of your ovulation.
    (Photo: iStock)

    Somewhere along the process, daily hormonal injections are also required to be taken to stimulate the ovaries. You would have to follow very strict timings for these injections without fail.

    The egg harvest procedure takes place around the time of your ovulation. This is an intrusive procedure involving light sedation and might have some after-effects in the form of cramping and bloating.

    The entire process takes about three weeks. Immediately after this, the eggs are frozen and thawed only when the patient is ready for pregnancy. It could be several years later. Once thawed, they are injected with a single sperm and then transferred to the uterus as an embryo
    Expand
  3. 3. How Costly, Reliable is the Procedure?

    The aim is to extract around 15 eggs to increase the chances of successful fertilisation. The success depends on various factors specific to specific patients.

    The survival rate of eggs is about 70-80 percent. How many will turn into an embryo will depend on the egg quality. People come with high expectations and need to be counseled on that too.
    Dr Nalini Mahajan, Nova IVI Fertility Clinic, Delhi
    The success depends on various factors specific to specific patients.
    The success depends on various factors specific to specific patients.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    Though doctors we reached out to said there are no standard rates for the procedures, some private facilities charge around Rs 1 lakh for extractions. Another Rs 40,000 is charged for storage annually. Some places might also charge a lump sum amount instead of taking an annual fee.

    Expand
  4. 4. How Prevalent is Egg Freezing in India?

    It’s not prevalent at all, says Dr Suneeta Mittal, Director and Head, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram. The reason for it, she adds, is that it’s a very recent phenomenon. Until 10 years ago, it wasn’t even in practice, but only within the realm of scientific experiments.

    Until 10 years ago, it wasn’t even in practice, but only within the realm of scientific experiments.
    Until 10 years ago, it wasn’t even in practice, but only within the realm of scientific experiments.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    Lack of awareness about this form of cryo-preservation is the main reason behind it, says Dr Mittal.

    Even when we see young patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, which brings down the number of eggs significantly, we counsel them and make them aware of egg freezing.
    Dr Suneeta Mittal

    The doctor further adds that the onus does not lie simply with increasing patient awareness.

    The awareness should be increased not just for patients, but also for doctors. All doctors, and not just gynaecologists and fertility experts, should be made familiar with it so that they can counsel their patients.
    Dr Suneeta Mittal

    (We at FIT are running a campaign to increase awareness about fertility. Get your queries on fertility answered by top specialists. Write to us at Fit@thequint.com or click here.)

    (Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

    Expand

What is Egg Freezing?

Egg freezing refers to an invasive procedure of extracting eggs from a woman’s body and storing them in meticulously regulated conditions. This ensures that the eggs can be fertilised at a later time. Women who wish to have a baby eventually, but are not ready for it immediately, mostly opt for this method.

Women who wish to have a baby eventually, but are not ready for it immediately, mostly opt for this method.
Women who wish to have a baby eventually, but are not ready for it immediately, mostly opt for this method.
(Photo: iStock)

It is a complicated procedure, demanding both physically and emotionally, and requires wading through several fertility clinics and experts to find the most reliable and appropriate option for you. Additionally, it does not offer a full guarantee of pregnancy. The chances are higher depending on the age of the woman.

Frozen eggs after the age of 40 have a less than 10 percent chance of translating in a healthy birth while those between 30 and 35 years have a 50 percent success rate.
Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant Specialist, Cocoon Fertility

Too caught up to read? Listen to the story:

How Does It Work?

Freezing your eggs is a long process spread over a couple of months. The first month consists of blood tests and ultrasounds to check the viability of eggs and if your body is suitable for the procedure.

If all goes well in this month, this is followed by two-week worth of medication to prepare you for the subsequent procedure - the retrieval of the egg. The medication period allows the doctor to monitor the egg development.

The egg harvest procedure takes place around the time of your ovulation.
The egg harvest procedure takes place around the time of your ovulation.
(Photo: iStock)

Somewhere along the process, daily hormonal injections are also required to be taken to stimulate the ovaries. You would have to follow very strict timings for these injections without fail.

The egg harvest procedure takes place around the time of your ovulation. This is an intrusive procedure involving light sedation and might have some after-effects in the form of cramping and bloating.

The entire process takes about three weeks. Immediately after this, the eggs are frozen and thawed only when the patient is ready for pregnancy. It could be several years later. Once thawed, they are injected with a single sperm and then transferred to the uterus as an embryo

How Costly, Reliable is the Procedure?

The aim is to extract around 15 eggs to increase the chances of successful fertilisation. The success depends on various factors specific to specific patients.

The survival rate of eggs is about 70-80 percent. How many will turn into an embryo will depend on the egg quality. People come with high expectations and need to be counseled on that too.
Dr Nalini Mahajan, Nova IVI Fertility Clinic, Delhi
The success depends on various factors specific to specific patients.
The success depends on various factors specific to specific patients.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Though doctors we reached out to said there are no standard rates for the procedures, some private facilities charge around Rs 1 lakh for extractions. Another Rs 40,000 is charged for storage annually. Some places might also charge a lump sum amount instead of taking an annual fee.

How Prevalent is Egg Freezing in India?

It’s not prevalent at all, says Dr Suneeta Mittal, Director and Head, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram. The reason for it, she adds, is that it’s a very recent phenomenon. Until 10 years ago, it wasn’t even in practice, but only within the realm of scientific experiments.

Until 10 years ago, it wasn’t even in practice, but only within the realm of scientific experiments.
Until 10 years ago, it wasn’t even in practice, but only within the realm of scientific experiments.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Lack of awareness about this form of cryo-preservation is the main reason behind it, says Dr Mittal.

Even when we see young patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, which brings down the number of eggs significantly, we counsel them and make them aware of egg freezing.
Dr Suneeta Mittal

The doctor further adds that the onus does not lie simply with increasing patient awareness.

The awareness should be increased not just for patients, but also for doctors. All doctors, and not just gynaecologists and fertility experts, should be made familiar with it so that they can counsel their patients.
Dr Suneeta Mittal

(We at FIT are running a campaign to increase awareness about fertility. Get your queries on fertility answered by top specialists. Write to us at Fit@thequint.com or click here.)

(Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

Published: 
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