IS EGG FREEZING REALLY A TIME-CONSUMING PROCESS?Shearn
IS EGG FREEZING REALLY A TIME-CONSUMING PROCESS?
Egg Freezing – officially known as oocyte cryopreservation – has pick some interest and grew popularity within the community; it helps women to ‘buy’ more time for their fertility future, giving them a higher possibility of becoming the biological parent to their child(ren) by using their frozen-thawed eggs. Although it has become such a popular topic over the years, yet egg freezing is still commonly misunderstood with many wrong facts. A common belief is that it is a complicated and time-consuming process. But is that really the case?
This process involves a few simple steps such as a consultation with a doctor, returning for check-ups, sending eggs to the laboratory, and freezing the eggs. A short description has been added to each step to help better understand the process and facilitate in decision making.
Step 1: Consultation with the Doctor
The beginning of this process revolves around exploration, where patients learn more about their fertility through blood tests and necessary scans – transvaginal scans and abdomen scans – run by the Doctor to assess patients’ body condition and hormone levels to tailor the dosage for hormone injections to stimulate ovaries for egg growth.
This step can be done at any point of time at your convenience.
Step 2: Stimulation
The hormone injection usually starts on Day 1 or 2 of the patient’s period cycle to stimulate the ovaries. The patient can choose to start their hormone injection at home or at the centre.
Step 3: Return for Check Ups & Eggs Retrieval
Patients will have to return to the centre for a doctor’s consultation and scans (usually twice) to see the number of follicles and growth of the of the follicles. If they are ready, the doctor will then schedule a date for egg retrieval.
Step 4: Sending Eggs to Laboratory
Eggs retrieved will be sent to the Laboratory for the Embryologist Team to strip off the outer shell of the eggs which is also known as cumulus and separate the mature eggs. During this process, an Embryologist will inform the doctor the number of mature eggs collected from this cycle.
Step 5: Freezing Eggs
At the final step, the mature eggs retrieved from this cycle will be sent to freeze under -196 degree Celsius in a nitrogen tank.
The four steps discussed above conclude one cycle of the Egg Freezing Process. Unfortunately, not all patients can store enough eggs in one egg freezing cycle have a fruitful egg freezing journey. Additionally, studies have shown that age combined with body condition do affect the number of eggs produced. Eggs produced by a healthy 35 years or younger women are higher as compared to women who are older.
To conclude, we have also included some of the frequent questions we have received by our patients which we would like to share.
- What is the average dosage of hormone injection used?
Our doctors will tailor the dosage of hormone injection to different patients depending on their age and their Antral Follicle Count (AFC)
- When is the best time to take the hormone injection?
Hormone injections are recommended to be taken in the morning.
- Do I have to do In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) if I have done Egg Freezing?
Yes, if you intend to use your frozen eggs, you must go through IVF.
- Is there any risk involve in Egg Freezing?
Yes, the common risk is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) caused by hormone medication taken to stimulate egg growth. This is the reason why our doctors run blood test and necessary scans during the initial consultation – to tailor the dosage accordingly. Generally, the dosage should be well balanced and knows what dosage to start with to ensure that this can be achieved in a safest possible way.
- How many eggs can I retrieve in one cycle?
Unfortunately, this can hardly be determined. Studies show the age and body condition combined could determine the number of eggs. Eggs retrieved from healthy women who is 35 years or younger are generally more than those who are 35 years and older.
- Other reasons that might affects the number of eggs produce?
Some diseases, medical problems or medical treatments will affect the egg growth. This is one of the reasons why doctors will recommend Cancer patients to freeze their eggs first before they proceed with chemotherapy treatments if they have plans for fertility in the future.