Preserving fertility allows you to choose when you wish to start a family without the pressure of a woman’s biological clock. Naturally, a woman’s chance of conceiving naturally decreases as she ages, with peak fertility between ages 20 to 35. Freezing eggs allows women to wait for the right time to start a family.
Preserving Fertility Explained
One method of preserving fertility is freezing eggs. This involves harvesting eggs from the ovaries, freezing them and storing them for potential use in future life.
Why do People Freeze Their Eggs?
There are numerous reasons why people seek to freeze their eggs which include:
- Some people may have a medical condition or need treatment for a condition that will affect fertility, such as cancer
- Concerns over declining fertility but have not found the right partner or are not ready to have a child
- High stakes job in which there is an increased risk of injury or death, such as the military
- Females undergoing gender transitioning to male may want to preserve fertility before commencing hormone therapy or surgery, which can cause infertility
- To focus on a career
Benefits of Freezing Eggs:
Commonly cited benefits of freezing one’s eggs include:
- Ability to focus on a career pathway without the pressure of declining fertility
- Plan for financial security before having children
- Better chance of getting pregnant later in life by using eggs that were frozen at the peak of fertility
- Less time pressure to find the ‘right’ partner
- Less risk of genetic complications with a later birth
What Are The Risks of Freezing Eggs:
Although rare, there are a few risks to be aware of and to consider when it comes to freezing one’s eggs, including:
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome: as a result of fertility drugs
- Retrieval procedure complications, the use of the aspirating needle to retrieve eggs may cause bleeding, infection or damage to the bowel
- Emotional risks, there is no guarantee of success
What to Expect From the Procedure
- Initially, you will be tested for any infectious diseases as a precaution
- A few weeks before the procedure, patients need to take some hormones to boost egg production and maturity. When they are ready, they will be collected
- Commonly this is conducted by ultrasound aspiration. This entails an ultrasound probe inserted into the vagina to identify the follicles. A needle is then inserted into the follicle where a suction device connected to the needle is used to remove the egg from the follicle
- A freezing solution (cryoprotectant) will be added to protect the eggs. The eggs will then be frozen by vitrification (fast freezing) and are stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen
- Usually around 15 eggs are collected
How Much Does Fertility Preservation Cost?
- The cost of collection and freezing of eggs starts at around £3,350. Added medication costs of between £500- £1,500 may also apply. There is an additional annual charge to store eggs to be considered too, and it is essential to understand the total cost to avoid any hidden fees.
- Egg freezing is not currently offered on the NHS unless women have a medical treatment that will lead to infertility, such as chemotherapy for cancer. After that, individual hospital trusts decide whether to offer egg-freezing.