It’s a fact that women in New Zealand are starting to have children later in their lives than in previous years. What hasn’t changed however, is the fact that women’s fertility declines as they age. While social reasons aren’t the only possible cause for pursuing egg freezing, they are becoming more common motivators as women increasingly find themselves ready to have a family later in life.
Back in 2014, both Apple and Facebook brought egg freezing to the forefront when they announced they would pay for their female employees who chose to undergo the procedure, as a strategy to attract more women workers.
For any woman who has felt the dilemma between making the most of prime working and living years while also desiring a family, it is likely that egg freezing has crossed her mind. But what exactly can you expect from the egg freezing process and what does it entail?
The egg freezing procedure
The first step in the egg freezing process is to undergo hormonal ovarian stimulation to increase the number of eggs that can be harvested. The hormones are usually injected daily for up to 12 days and the growth of follicles is monitored during this time with several blood tests and ultrasound scans.
Retrieval of the eggs from the ovaries is performed by the Repromed Doctor using an ultrasound probe that is inserted into the vagina. The procedure takes about 20 minutes and is done using a light sedation so the woman can return home after a couple hours of recovery.
The aim is to retrieve as many mature eggs as possible but the actual number depends on a variety of factors including age.
Of the retrieved eggs, only the mature ones are suitable for freezing and thus not all eggs retrieved will necessarily be frozen. Mature eggs are treated with a cryo-protective solution and then frozen rapidly in a procedure called vitrification. After freezing, eggs can be stored indefinitely.
What role does age play?
Just as increasing age makes it more challenging for women to conceive naturally, it also has an influence on the success of egg freezing. There may be less eggs available for harvest in older women and it might also take more frozen eggs to achieve pregnancy later on. It is therefore best to freeze eggs when they are in their prime during a woman’s 20’s and early 30’s.
At Repromed, we recommend having 20 eggs frozen to give the best chance of success, as we expect 75 per cent of the eggs to survive the thawing process. Depending on the woman’s age and how well she responds to the fertility drugs, this may require 1-3 rounds of treatment. You can see more about the success factors here.
To learn more about egg freezing and whether it’s right for you, contact the team at Repromed to discuss your options.