Infertility is a condition where a person is unable to conceive a child despite having regular, unprotected sexual intercourse for at least a year. It affects both men and women and can be caused by a variety of factors. In women, infertility can be caused by ovulation disorders, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, or age-related factors. In men, infertility can be caused by low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or abnormal sperm shape. Symptoms of infertility may include irregular menstrual cycles, pain during intercourse, or changes in libido. Infertility can be a stressful and emotionally challenging experience, often leading to anxiety and depression. Infertility treatment options include in vitro fertilisation (IVF), ovulation induction, intrauterine insemination, and fertility preservation. Seeking the help of a fertility specialist can provide support and guidance in navigating this difficult journey.
Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, is a medical procedure that allows women to preserve their eggs for future use. This procedure has become increasingly popular in recent years due to advancements in technology and changing societal attitudes toward family planning. Women who wish to focus on their careers or travel before starting a family later in life can now have the option to freeze their eggs. Additionally, women who are at risk of age-related infertility or are about to undergo chemotherapy that could affect their ovaries might seek out this procedure. Studies have shown that the overall chance of live birth from frozen eggs is 39 percent, with age and egg quantity contributing to success rates.
1. Causes of infertility
Infertility can be caused by several factors including medical conditions, lifestyle factors, and age-related infertility. Medical conditions that can affect fertility include autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, reproductive health conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids, and cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Lifestyle factors that can impact fertility include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition. It's important to make healthy lifestyle choices and supplement your intake of important nutrients to improve and maintain your chances of becoming pregnant.
Age-related infertility is a common cause of infertility, particularly for women. As women age, the number and quality of their eggs decrease, making it more difficult to become pregnant. This is because women are born with a finite number of eggs, which gradually decline in number and quality as they age. By age 35, a woman's fertility begins to decline rapidly, and by age 40, her chances of becoming pregnant naturally are significantly reduced.
2. Emotional and psychological impact of infertility
Infertility can be an incredibly challenging experience emotionally and psychologically. Individuals struggling with infertility may experience a range of emotions, including grief, anger, and guilt. The grief of not being able to conceive can be similar to the grief experienced after a loss, and it can be difficult to move forward. Additionally, the sense of loss can be compounded by feelings of guilt or shame, as if infertility is a personal failure. These emotions can lead to decreased self-esteem and increased anxiety. In fact, studies have shown that individuals experiencing infertility have higher levels of anxiety and depression than the general population. It's important to acknowledge the emotional toll that infertility can take and to seek support during this difficult time.
Egg Freezing: An Overview
Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is a method of preserving a woman's fertility potential. The process involves stimulating the ovaries with fertility drugs to produce multiple mature eggs, which are then retrieved and frozen using vitrification, a fast and effective freezing method. The frozen eggs can be stored until the woman is ready to start a family, at which point they can be thawed and used in in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with a partner or sperm donor. The benefits of egg freezing include giving women more flexibility in when they choose to have children and the potential to increase their chances of a successful pregnancy in the future. However, there are potential risks associated with the procedure, including the possibility of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and the uncertain success rates of using frozen eggs. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if egg freezing is a suitable option.
1. How does the egg-freezing process work?
Egg freezing is a method of preserving fertility potential by harvesting and freezing a woman's eggs. The process involves several steps: ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, vitrification, and egg storage. First, fertility medications are given to stimulate the growth and development of multiple follicles, which contain eggs. Then, the mature eggs are retrieved from the woman's ovaries through a painless outpatient procedure performed under sedation. The eggs are then rapidly frozen using a special technique called vitrification, which prevents ice crystal formation and helps to protect the eggs during the freezing and thawing process. Finally, the frozen eggs are stored in a liquid nitrogen storage tank until the woman is ready to conceive.
2. Who should consider egg freezing?
Egg freezing can be beneficial for women who want to preserve their fertility for future use, including those who want to delay childbearing to pursue personal or career goals, those who have been diagnosed with cancer, and those with objections to storing frozen embryos for religious or moral reasons. However, the decision to freeze eggs is a complicated one and should not be influenced by peer pressure or marketing campaigns. Factors to consider include medical conditions such as endometriosis or diminished ovarian reserve, as well as personal circumstances such as whether the woman would ever consider being a single mother in the future. Ultimately, the choice to pursue egg freezing is both medical and personal and varies from patient to patient.
The Role of Expert Guidance
1. Importance of consulting fertility specialists
Consulting with fertility specialists can be a crucial step for individuals facing infertility or considering egg freezing. These specialists can provide expert guidance and support throughout the fertility journey, from initial evaluations to choosing the right fertility clinic and doctor. They can also offer a full range of infertility treatments and help individuals make informed decisions based on their medical history and goals. With their expertise and compassionate care, fertility specialists can provide reassurance and valuable support to those seeking to start or expand their families. So don't hesitate to schedule an appointment and take the next step towards achieving your fertility goals.
2. Initial consultation and evaluation
When seeking expert guidance for infertility or egg freezing, initial consultation and evaluation are crucial steps. The purpose of the initial consultation is to determine whether fertility preservation is the right option for you and your circumstances. During the evaluation process, you can expect ovarian tests, professional counseling, discussions around your complete medical history, and outlining your chances of future conception. Seeking guidance from an expert provides numerous benefits, including a personalised treatment plan, access to advanced technology, and support throughout the process. It's important to choose a clinic or doctor's office that feels safe, clean, and responds in a timely manner, and to work with a provider you feel comfortable having a frank conversation with. Overall, the initial consultation and evaluation allow for informed decision-making and a tailored approach to fertility preservation.
Egg Freezing Process
1. Ovarian stimulation
The process of ovarian stimulation during egg freezing involves taking medications to produce mature eggs for freezing. Here's a breakdown of the process:
- Initial assessment: A fertility specialist will perform an assessment of your ovarian reserve to estimate the potential yield of eggs prior to the ovarian stimulation cycle. This will include blood tests and a pelvic ultrasound.
- Medications: To stimulate the ovaries, injectable hormonal medications are prescribed. The dosage of these medications will depend on factors such as ovarian reserve and individual response to ovarian stimulation.
- Egg collection: After the ovarian stimulation, a procedure is performed to collect the eggs and the surrounding fluid from the ovarian follicles. This procedure is carried out under sedation and involves aspiration through the vagina. The collected eggs are then examined under a microscope to determine their maturity. Only mature eggs are suitable for cryopreservation.
- Cryopreservation:Eggs are cryopreserved using a technique called vitrification. This method involves rapidly cooling the eggs to a very low temperature using liquid nitrogen. Once frozen, the eggs can be stored for future use.
The duration of the entire process can vary depending on factors such as ovarian reserve, response to medication, and individual circumstances. While some individuals may require only one cycle, others may need multiple cycles. Age and egg quality are also important factors. Typically, the process takes approximately 2 to 4 weeks from the initial assessment to the egg collection procedure.
2. Egg retrieval procedure
Egg retrieval is a crucial step in the process of egg freezing. Before the procedure, patients must undergo initial investigations, scans, and counseling, and consult with a fertility specialist to determine if fertility preservation is right for them. Once given consent, patients begin ovarian stimulation by self-injecting two to three hormone medications daily for 10-12 days. During this time, patients have frequent pelvic ultrasounds and bloodwork to monitor the development of their eggs.
Once the eggs have matured, an ultrasound-guided surgical procedure is done to retrieve them. The outpatient procedure, which takes 20-30 minutes, is done under anesthesia. A needle is used to collect the mature eggs from the ovaries. An embryologist verifies the maturity of the eggs before freezing only those that are ready to be fertilized.
There may be some discomfort during the procedure, but it can be minimized with anesthesia. After the procedure, patients should rest and avoid strenuous activity for a few days. Egg freezing provides women with the flexibility to embark on their fertility journey at a later time.
3. Laboratory procedures and cryopreservation
Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is an elective method for fertility preservation. The process involves ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, and cryopreservation. The ovarian stimulation protocol can be initiated at any time in the menstrual cycle using Random start or DuoStim. Two oocytes are retrieved in the same menstrual cycle to optimize the quality and maturity of the eggs. The eggs are then vitrified using the Cryotop protocol established by Kuwayama et al. in 2005. Cryoprotectants are used to prevent ice formation during the freezing process. Vitrification is the preferred technique for egg cryopreservation as it offers high success rates. The eggs are stored at negative temperatures for extended periods until they are needed. In conclusion, egg freezing involves laboratory procedures such as ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval, followed by the cryopreservation process that uses cryoprotectants and vitrification techniques to store the eggs for future use.
Evaluating the number of frozen eggs
When considering egg freezing
, it's important to understand how many eggs to freeze, and this number depends on several factors, including age, ovarian reserve, and egg quality. Women under 38 years of age can expect to harvest 10-20 eggs per cycle, and it's recommended to store 10 eggs for each pregnancy attempt. However, it's quality over quantity when it comes to your eggs, and most people will need 10 to 20 mature eggs to have a baby, but that doesn't mean you'll have 10 to 20 babies. The success rates of frozen eggs vary, and age is the most important factor in successful egg freezing. If a woman is younger than 38 or thaws more than 20 eggs, her chances of success increase significantly. However, clinical pregnancy rates have been estimated between 4-12% per oocyte, and more data will be needed to have a better idea of these success rates. It's important to evaluate the potential outcomes of having a higher or lower number of frozen eggs and make an informed decision based on personal goals and medical history.
Periodic monitoring and reevaluation:
After egg freezing, it's important to undergo periodic monitoring and reevaluation to ensure the viability of the frozen eggs. This involves regular check-ups and tests to assess the overall health of the patient and to determine if additional cycles are necessary.
The recommended frequency of check-ups and tests varies depending on the individual's age, ovarian reserve, and other factors. However, most fertility specialists recommend annual check-ups that include an ultrasound and bloodwork to monitor the number of follicles and hormone levels.
If the initial assessment reveals a low number of viable eggs, additional cycles may be necessary to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. The number of cycles required depends on the individual's ovarian reserve and the body's reaction to ovarian stimulation.
It's important to note that the cost of additional cycles can be significant, and insurance coverage varies depending on the individual plan. Some insurance plans may cover the initial assessment and a portion of the treatment, while others may not cover any of the costs.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the stress and anxiety associated with infertility, seeking expert guidance and support can make a world of difference. Our team of specialists at Milann Fertility Clinic
, patient advisors, and experienced counsellors are here to provide you with information, advice, and understanding every step of the way. Don't hesitate to book an appointment with us to start the conversation about your fertility journey today.
- Mayo Clinic - Infertility: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354317
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) - Patient Resources on Egg Freezing: https://www.asrm.org/topics/topics-index/egg-freezing/
- ReproductiveFacts.org - Information on Egg Freezing: https://www.reproductivefacts.org/topics/topics-index/egg-freezing/
- Resolve: The National Infertility Association - Egg Freezing: https://resolve.org/what-are-my-options/egg-freezing/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Report: https://www.cdc.gov/art/reports/index.html
- FertilityIQ - Patient Reviews and Insights on Fertility Clinics: https://www.fertilityiq.com/