Egg freezing, which is also called mature oocyte cryopreservation happens to be a process that is used for saving the ability of women to conceive in future. Here the eggs harvested from the woman’s ovaries are frozen in an unfertilized manner and then stored properly for future usage. Later the frozen eggs can be thawed, matched with the sperm and can be implanted in the donor’s uterus through IVF.
In case you are not aware of the process of egg donation in India, your doctor can help you in learning how the process works, whether the process is ideal for you, and if there is any potential risk associated with it.
Why egg freezing is done?
Egg freezing is the right option for a woman if she is not planning to get pregnant immediately but wants to get pregnant later. Unlike the process of fertilized egg freezing or embryo freezing, egg freezing never requires sperm as here the eggs are not fertilized before those are frozen. But the similarity of both the processes is the use of fertility drugs to help one to ovulate. And this helps one to produce several eggs for retrieval.
Here are the situations when egg freezing can be considered:
- You have some circumstance or condition, which can affect fertility: These conditions often include some autoimmune diseases like gender diversity and lupus, sickle cell anaemia, etc.
- You are going through in vitro fertilization: While going through this procedure, women often prefer egg freezing or embryo freezing for some ethical or religious reasons.
- You are getting treatment for cancer or some other terminal illnesses that can affect your scope to get pregnant: Some of the medical treatments like chemotherapy or radiation can harm the rate of fertility. So, freezing the egg before starting the treatment can help you to have biological kids later.
- You want to preserve your younger eggs for future use: Freezing your eggs at a young age can help you get pregnant at a later age when you are ready.
How can you freeze embryos?
Egg freezing is mainly done to preserve the eggs for later use. But the biggest challenge here is the water that is present within the cells. While the water freezes, it can form crystals and can burst the cell. And to prevent this situation from occurring, doctors often consider the cryopreservation process. This process involves replacing the water available in the cell with the substance known as cryoprotectant.
In this process, the doctors allow the embryos to incubate in a high level of cryoprotectant and then they freeze those. Once most of the water is removed, the embryo is cooled to the preservation state by using any of the following freezing methods:
- Vitrification: Here the cryoprotected embryos are frozen so quickly that the water molecules don’t get time to develop ice crystals. This protects the embryos and enhances their scope to survive during thawing.
Slow freezing: This process includes placing the embryos in the sealed tubes and then decreasing their temperature slowly.