Women can now think of getting pregnant later too, thanks to 'egg-freezing'

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Social egg-freezing is a method to preserve a woman's ovarian reserve through eggs in order to avoid age related fertility issues. Representative image
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New Delhi: With the change in lifestyle patterns, educational or career demands, delayed marriages, rise in corporate stress, some women, for various reasons, choose to get married and get pregnant later in life.

In recent years, a social trend toward delaying childbearing has been observed in women of reproductive age. Many women also choose to be single because they have not yet found a partner. As a consequence, by the time they decide to conceive or have children, it's at an age when their fertility is likely to have declined.

One of the most novel medical advances available now is through fertility preservation techniques that can be obtained through so-called "social egg freezing". The credit for this goes to a few significant changes like openness in society, awareness about the changing trends, and importantly, women themselves. With more women choosing to have careers, we're seeing more of them consciously adopting egg freezing as a welcomed lifestyle choice - as a need of the hour.

Dr. Beena Muktesh, Clinical Director - Fertility, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Gurgaon explains all about social egg freezing.

What is social egg freezing?

Social egg-freezing is a method to preserve a woman's ovarian reserve through eggs in order to avoid age related fertility issues. This technique is useful when a woman chooses to have her own biological child with sperm from a partner or a sperm donor whenever she desires to. It also implies storing eggs of a healthy, fertile woman, in order to have a pregnancy later in her life, that is at the age of 40.

It's not like our fertility drops off a cliff at age 35; fertility decline happens throughout our adult lives. But fertility decline is a snowball effect-meaning as we age, not only does our fertility decline, but the rate at which it declines actually increases. So, the downward slope of fertility and age gets steeper in our mid-30s. Thanks our body and biology! Egg count is just one part of the equation. The quality of those eggs is even more important. Egg quality refers to the state of an egg as genetically normal or abnormal. As you age, the DNA inside your eggs begins to degrade. Many women cannot opt to get pregnant during their window of fertile periods due to various reasons like unable to find a suitable partner, carrier, job, education , personal choice, family conflict etc. If she is ageing it is important for her to go for egg freezing.

What are the benefits of egg freezing?

In October 2014, the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society released its position statement on egg freezing, describing it as "an option for women wishing to preserve their fertility in the face of anticipated decline. One can use these eggs in an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure when the time to have children is right for them.

Egg freezing allows women's biology to better match the way they actually live.

Egg freezing can help reduce "fertility anxiety" and allows you to focus on your life goals in your early adult years without feeling the constant worry of a ticking biological clock. It can take away your anxiety about your future fertility and leave you feeling empowered.

Egg freezing can give you time to find the right partner

Egg quality diminishes as women age. Egg freezing helps preserve egg quality. It allows you to stop worrying about the quality of your eggs diminishing after you reach your thirties. It doesn't mean that they have to use them if the time is right for them, they can try naturally but in case of failure, can fall back on stored eggs.

Age significantly affects the reproductive capacity of women; between the ages of 25-30 a woman's fertility has already started to diminish and these reserves will decrease from the age of 35. At 38 years, the quantity and quality of a woman's eggs diminish and there is increased probability of having embryos with chromosome abnormality. For better results, it is preferred that a woman should freeze her eggs between 32-36 years though, there is no upper age but up to 40 years is considered optimal for it. The eggs can be frozen from 1-2 cycles to have enough number of eggs to be frozen .These eggs can be stored for at least five years in an IVF lab or more if need arises .

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