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What egg freezing involves

Embryologist interview
So, the process of egg freezing involves stimulating the ovaries of the woman in order to produce more than one egg, which is more than the usual, more than what a woman produces in a month. Now while the woman is going through the stimulation process we need to monitor, how the follicles are growing. And we do that by ultrasound scan and also, the woman will need to have some blood tests done as well. So, you have to go for a scan and a blood test probably more or less every other day.
And as soon as the follicles are big enough it is time to take an injection, the final trigger injection as we call it which will help the eggs to mature, for the final maturation of the follicles and the eggs, which are inside the follicles. And two days after that the woman will go through the egg collection procedure. Now the egg collection procedure sounds scary for many women but it is not. It is done under heavy sedation and is done transvaginally and you can’t really remember anything afterwards. During the egg collection, the eggs are collected by the embryologist. And the eggs are taken into the lab where we will assess how many of them are mature enough to be frozen.
And then the eggs will be subjected into a serious of cryopreservation media as we call it. This is a series of solution, which contain different concentrations of cryoprotectants that will protect the eggs against the very low temperatures of liquid nitrogen where they are stored. As soon as we know how many are suitable for freezing we will subject them through the freezing solutions and the eggs will be frozen. We use the technique of vitrification here at CRGH, which is the latest technology available now days to freeze eggs. Vitrification has allowed for very high survival rates of the freezing and the thawing of the eggs. We are talking about over 90% probably survival rates of the eggs.
The woman doesn’t have to stay in hospital overnight. So, you go within two or three hours, you are back home. The main problem that egg freezing will solve is to preserve the option of having children in the future. Now that can be because of medical reasons for patients that have cancer and will undergo potential sterilizing treatments. It is an option for them to have children when they, they are better. And also for women that for any social reason have to postpone their fertility, whether that is because they haven’t found the one yet or because they have a career to pursue, or for any other social reasons. So they have the option now days to, to postpone their fertility.
Also the treatment is available for patients for ethical reasons, they don’t want to freeze embryos, they don’t want to preserve embryos, it is not ethically acceptable for, for them but oocyte freezing is more ethically or religeously acceptable. There is always a correlation with the age of the woman, so, the younger the woman the more eggs we get. And a good average is around 9 to 11 eggs. But it doesn’t mean that a woman with 3 or 5 eggs is not going to have the option. The advice for people that would like to go through the procedure would be to first probably have a search on the internet.
Although, the information which is available on the internet is not always the right information. It is not always correct and people should bear that in mind. GP’s should be able to give appropriate information or they can visit any IVF unit where egg freezing is offered and then they can get all the necessary information for egg freezing.

Here we meet Kalliope again, this time not telling her own story, but talking about her scientific work at a busy London fertility clinic, where she serves as the Deputy Head of Embryology.

Kalliope describes what happens when a women undergoes egg freezing, what the procedure involves. She also talks about her role as an embryologist in the laboratory, where she is the one that handles the eggs once outside the body of the woman.

When discussing the statistics of egg freezing, it’s important to distinguish the chances of an egg surviving the freezing process, which can be as high as 90 per cent, from the chance of a successful pregnancy, which is at most 50-60 per cent.

For your discussion: If you have personal experience with egg freezing, either for medical or ‘social’ reasons, or you know someone who has – and you feel comfortable sharing that experience – do tell us what you thought about it. If not, are there other questions you would want to put to someone like Kalliope?

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