The society has undergone many changes, and so has the age of child bearing women. Gone are the days when women got married and pregnant in 18 to 21 years of age. Today’s woman is ambitious and plans her career, which may be one of the reasons for the prolonged family planning decision. With the passage of time and stressful routine that women are subject to, the capacity and quality of healthy eggs decreases. This gives rise to problems like infertility. A possible option is to store eggs now, while at the reproductive high, for use later on.
A woman who is fertile now and wants to preserve the eggs for future bearing will need the solution for storing her eggs. This is especially useful where you are not ready to plan pregnancy yet but will want to in the future, or if you have a family history of early menopause. Where you desire to postpone pregnancy, freezing the eggs at the early age ensure higher chances of successful pregnancy when you are ready. This prevents the condition of infertility later on as your age advances.
Any woman who is interested in storing her eggs for future use has met the challenge that storing unfertilized eggs has, for a long time, been impossible. The only effective way to store eggs has been to fertilize them first and then store them. This proved to be a challenge where the woman did not have a ready sperm donor at the time. For example, a woman who is suffering from cancer may have to undergo treatment that would leave her infertile, and she is, therefore, forced to look for a sperm donor at a short notice.
Storing unfertilized eggs has always been problematic due to the high water content in the egg cells. When water is frozen, it will start to collect together to form crystals at lower temperatures. Water will, therefore, collect outside the cell to form crystals as it is cooled to its freezing point. This causes two serious problems. First, cells contain solutions that should be at highly specific concentrations. Where water molecules band together and leave the rest of the molecules together, this can cause harmful concentrations to build up. Second, ice crystals that are formed within and without the cell, damage the cell structure. This damage causes the egg cells to lose viability, and they cannot be successfully used for in vitro fertilization, IVF.
Egg freezing or vitrification offers a great option for women looking to preserve their fertility. Also known as oocyte freezing, egg freezing has been around for years and is a process similar to embryo freezing. When freezing eggs, the temperature drops below freezing point and it carries risk of ice crystal formation inside the egg, causing damage to the genetic material unless adequate care is exercised. Egg freezing is a much more advanced technique as it does not allow ice crystals to form. The process involves using high concentrations of an anti-freeze substance. Egg freezing is becoming increasingly popular with women and is being touted as a woman’s emancipation from age-related infertility.
Medical research has shown that freezing tissues is the best way of preserving them for later use. The medical community discovered that there was a way to freeze eggs that would not cause the effects noted above, egg freezing. This procedure, also known as oocyte vitrification, enables the cells to be frozen without ice crystals forming.
The process is as simple as the addition of chemicals called cryoprotectants to the cells before they are frozen. This enables the woman’s eggs to be extracted, frozen and stored for use when she is ready to become pregnant. At that time, the egg can be planted into the uterus, just like an embryo. The process takes less than a minute. Vitrification has been successfully tried with viable eggs, which has led to successful pregnancies.
It is especially beneficial for women who are at a risk of losing their fertility due to cytotoxic therapy (like cancer patients), young single women inclined to preserve their fertility and store eggs for the future as well as couples who face moral or religious issues that do not permit the storage of embryos. Even though it’s an expensive treatment, it promises a great success rate.