What is egg freezing?

Understanding the Physiology of Egg Freezing

Egg freezing is a process in which a woman’s eggs are extracted, frozen and stored for later use. Fertility declines with age, so it can be very difficult for women to get pregnant later in life. The decline in fertility with age is almost entirely due to a deterioration in egg quality. Frozen eggs can be safely stored for many years without undergoing significant deterioration. Freezing eggs is a means of fertility preservation, extending the age at which a woman is able to conceive using her own eggs.

Egg freezing may be conducted for a number of reasons. Whilst the optimal time for a woman to conceive and carry a pregnancy is in her 20s or early 30s, this may not be ideal – career goals, travel plans, not having found the ideal partner, wanting financial security prior to committing to having a baby or not feeling ready just yet may be factors. There may also be medical reasons such as a history of ovarian cysts or the removal of one ovary, a genetic predisposition to developing cancer or menopause at a young age, concerns regarding endometriosis involving the ovaries or a low ovarian reserve.

The process of egg freezing involves three primary steps – an initial consultation with Dr Rachael Rodgers, a fertility specialist, to assess your individual situation and answer any questions you may have; the ovarian stimulation process which requires the use of hormonal medications and monitoring with blood tests and ultrasounds, this usually takes around two weeks; and finally the egg collection procedure which is a short procedure conducted under a light general anaesthetic where your eggs are collected and frozen in our world-leading lab at Genea for later use.

When you want to conceive, you can return for a subsequent appointment and arrange for your eggs to be thawed and fertilized with your partner’s (or donor’s) sperm. The embryos created are then grown in the Genea Geri incubators for 5 days, before an embryo is transferred into your uterus to achieve a pregnancy. The embryo transfer process is a quick and easy procedure, you won’t need an anaesthetic for it and you can return to work immediately after the procedure.

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