Egg freezing is a new way to preserve a woman's fertility if she is going through chemotherapy. Some women may want to freeze their eggs to increase their chances of having a baby later in life. The success rates of egg freezing depend on the amount of eggs extracted. The average success rate of obtaining a viable egg for fertilization is between 30% and 40%.
A woman's eggs are very fragile. They are made up of mostly water, so freezing and thawing them without doing any damage is a very tricky process. There are many steps in egg freezing.
Step 1: The Egg Extraction
When a woman decides that she is going to freeze her eggs, the doctor will start her on a medication which will help her to produce more eggs. After she is done with the medication, she will undergo anesthesia and the doctor will remove the eggs. There is no cutting required to remove the eggs. The doctor will use an ultrasound-guided needle to remove the eggs. The woman is put under anesthesia to make the procedure more comfortable.
Step 2: Preparing the Eggs for Freezing
After the eggs have been extracted, they are taken to the lab where the lab technicians will attempt to remove part of the water from the egg. If the water is not removed from the egg, when the eggs is thawed it may cause damage to the egg, making it not usable. The technician then places an "antifreeze" solution into the egg. The "antifreeze" solution is combined with sugar and other additives to prolong the life of the egg.
Step 3: Freezing the Eggs
After the solution is placed in the eggs, the freezing will begin. Some companies freeze the eggs slowly while others think it is best to freeze them quickly. Once the eggs are frozen, they are stored in tubes in a liquid nitrogen tank. The time that the eggs can be frozen without damage is still undetermined.
Step 4: Thawing and Fertilizing the Eggs
When the woman decides she is ready to have a baby, the eggs are thawed out. After the thawing process, each egg is then injected with a single sperm. The eggs then are left to develop into embryos.
Step 5: Implantation of the Embryos
After the eggs have developed into embryos, they are then implanted into the uterus. The embryos are placed inside the uterus with the use of a catheter. After the embryo is implanted, the waiting period begins to see if the process has worked.
Cost of Egg Freezing
The cost of freezing eggs can be any where from $9,000 to $13,000. This does not include the monthly fees for storage of the eggs, which is around $200 per month. These fees do not include the medications; those are an additional fee.
Freezing a woman's eggs can improve her chances of having children later on in life. It is expensive to freeze eggs, but for many women who want to have a family of their own, it may not matter.