When a baby girl is born, she is born with an egg reserve that contains a certain number of Oocytes (eggs). When a female reaches a certain age and puberty she her menstrual cycle will begin, and she will ovulate and release an egg each month. The rate of which the egg reserve decreases is due to genetic factor and or environmental factors effecting the female. So menopause is reached when the egg reserve has finished and the ovaries stop ovulating as a result.
When a female’s age matures, the number of follicles within the ovaries (which are small poches filled with liquid and also eggs) and the quality of eggs produced decreases. In parallel with this, the risk of a miscarriage and delivering a baby with genetic anomalies, unfortunately increases. The chances of pregnancy decrease when a female is more mature in age.
Can this process be stopped?
Unfortunately, we do not have a chance to freeze time. But we have the chance to freeze the eggs.
Developments in vitro fertilization and in particular laboratory techniques have shown to have successful applications and solutions that are used during egg freezing and thawing. This allows the frozen eggs to successfully survive the thawing process. A pregnancy can then occur at the age of 45 with egg frozen at the age of 35. Moreover, since the egg has a biological age of 35, the chances of pregnancy and a live birth will be higher.
Due to the increasing of women putting emphasis on their career planning and delaying marriage to a later age or having children, the urge for a pregnancy increases with age. Theoretically, there is egg production in the body until menopause, but the chances of becoming pregnant due to age, especially after 42-43 years, are considerably reduced. It is known that the count and quality in eggs accelerates especially around 39-40 years.
When should Egg freezing be considered?
This question can be easily answered and simply yes for all women who have no plan for a child in the near future or who are not sure whether they wish to conceive..
Egg freezing is one way of not to struggle and face the social pressure of not having a child and reduce the level of anxiety in women, egg freezing offers more freedom in planning about life. The thought of that you may be able to conceive with your own eggs at a later age, at any given time and under any condition is quite comforting.
Although social causes are among the most important reasons for freezing eggs, it is especially recommended that the patient freeze their eggs if they have had or have medical conditions. These situations are:
Decrease in egg reserve
Women who have to undergo surgery for problems that are not related to the ovaries but may reduce the egg reserve postoperative (e.g. large chocolate cysts, etc.)
Women who will receive chemotherapy or especially abdominal radiotherapy for any reason;
Women who are expected to enter at an early age, menopause due to having a genetic disorder or premature menopause in their family history.
Are there any tests that should be done before egg freezing?
Some hormone tests are necessary (TSH, AMH, prolactin etc.) and screening for Hepatitis etc. are required before starting treatment to obtain healthy and quality eggs. As well as an antral follicle count scan to monitor the egg reserve.
How long does the treatment process last?
In treatment, follicles containing eggs are targeted and follicle growth is encouraged. To stimulate the follicles, stimulation begins early on in the cycle, i.e. day 2 or 3. Short protocols are used, so hormonal treatment is administered in the form of daily subcutaneous injection to stimulate as many of the antral follicles. An ultrasound examination will be needed at least 3-4 times on average during treatment to monitor follicle growth. The length of the treatment and stimulation is generally between 8-11 days (the days may vary according to the response to the stimulation). At the end of the stimulation, when there are a sufficient number of follicles at a certain size develop, the last trigger injection (to induce ovulation) is administered and the egg collection is performed after 34-36 hours after this.
In other words, the average time from the beginning of the treatment until the egg collection day is 10-14 days.
After the eggs are collected, they are frozen by the embryologist under the microscope, they check to control how many of the eggs are mature (M2) and freeze them accordingly.
Is it sensible to freeze eggs when there is a low egg reserve?
Absolutely. A low egg reserve can indicate that only a small number of eggs can be obtained at one time. In this case, to increase the number of frozen eggs, the collection process can be done more than once to create an egg pool.