HYDERABAD: Whether to advance their career or wait for Mr Right, more and more women are opting to freeze their eggs so that they can become mothers later in life. The process empowers women to start a family when they feel ready, instead of being held hostage to their biology. Badminton player Jwala Gutta said in an interview last year that she might consider the procedure since she did not want to become a mother while being an active player.
Actresses Diana Hayden and Mona Singh went for egg freezing to have healthy children when they were ready. So what should you be aware of if you want to freeze your eggs? Explaining the need for the process, Dr Krishna Chaitanya, scientific head and clinical embryologist at Oasis Fertility, said: “Unlike men, who generate new sperm throughout their lives, women are born with their limited lifetime supply of eggs.
As women age, the number of eggs in the ovaries decreases and the percentage of unhealthy eggs increases. After 35, eggs decrease both in quality and quantity. So, if there is any underlying medical condition that will affect egg health or she is not able to plan pregnancy due social reasons like study or career constraints, she can freeze her eggs.”
Process duration and costs
Giving a snapshot about the time and money involved, Dr Lavanya Malavatu, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Ankura Hospital for Women and Children, said: “Procedure to freeze eggs is called verification in which rapid cooling of eggs is done with cryoprotective substances. The egg retrieval, which takes half an hour, is done in sedation in a fasting state through a transvaginal route. It’s an office procedure done early morning and the person can be discharged by evening once her vitals are stabilised and sedation is weaned off.” Adding that the cost of procedure varies according to the patient’s condition, she said: “The investigations, stimulation of the cycle and egg retrieval under anaesthesia may cost up to Rs 1.5 lakh.”
Chances of pregnancy
“The chances of pregnancy depend on what the mother’s age was when the eggs were extracted, the number of eggs frozen and the thawing process. The best age to go for the procedure is between 30-35 years. It is necessary that at least 10-15 eggs are frozen, because all the eggs do not survive after thawing. In western countries, they are using artificial intelligence to predict which eggs might develop into a good embryo later on,” said Dr Hrishikesh Pai, who is the medical director at Bloom IVF India.
Even though there exists no scientific upper limit of storage duration, women should be aware of the upper age limit of legally permissible IVF in the country and complete her fertility options before that. “Egg freezing is absolutely safe as it uses the same tried and tested procedures used for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for decades. Less than 1% of women develop severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a condition in which the ovaries respond too strongly to the medications,” said Dr Krishna Chaitanya.
Who should go for it?
- Women who have endometriosis, PCOD, Premature Ovarian Insufficiency or any condition which indicates decreased ovarian health and egg quality
- Women with upcoming pelvic surgery or medical treatments that could result in the loss of ovarian tissue or eggs
- Women who have advanced maternal age i.e. above 35 years
- Women at risk for early menopause because of family history or genetic reasons
- Women who have been diagnosed with cancer and have chemotherapy and radiotherapy planned as a part of treatment
- Women who find it difficult to plan pregnancy at the right biological age and won’t be able to achieve it before 30-35 years, or planning to delay pregnancy because of career or family constraints