Egg Freezing is the process by which we cryopreserve a woman’s eggs and store them until such a time that she is ready to have a family. This is known as elective or social egg freezing. We also utilise this technique in specific medical instances where we cannot perform IVF on eggs retrieved as part of an IVF treatment cycle.
Egg Freezing is essentially an interrupted IVF cycle. We stimulate the production of follicles using medication prescribed by our medical team. Each of these follicles or sacs should contain an egg. We monitor follicular development using transvaginal ultrasound scans and hormone blood tests which start early in the menstrual cycle.
Just like in an IVF cycle, when the follicles have reached optimum levels of development we trigger ovulation using a hormone injection and carry out an egg retrieval procedure in one of our operating theatres under local anaesthesia or sedation.
This is the point at which it deviates from an IVF treatment and rather than fertilise the eggs using partner or donor sperm, any suitable eggs retrieved are cryopreserved in our laboratory.
Sometimes the procedure is repeated depending on the number of eggs retrieved and the individual wishes of the patient.
When it comes to the time that our patient would like to return to us to use these eggs whether with a partner, or as an individual to use with donor sperm, we then thaw the eggs and proceed to use the techniques of IVF or ICSI to fertilise the eggs.
The embryos resulting from this process are placed back inside the patient during the embryo transfer procedure, and surplus embryos can be cryopreserved for use in the future.
Ideally women would consider freezing their eggs at as young an age as possible, preferably in their twenties, but we know that the majority of women will not really give this thought until they are perhaps in their thirties. It is still an option even if you are not in your twenties or early thirties, and during your consultation our medical team will be realistic and give you an honest opinion on whether this is a viable route for you.
Just as we have the ability to freeze eggs, we can also freeze and preserve sperm.
In fact it is a technique our laboratory perform quite frequently for a variety of medical and social reasons.
In advance of proceeding to sperm freezing we require that you attend for a consultation so that we can explain the process and order the appropriate tests. We want to ensure that the sperm we freeze is of adequate quality, in other words that the sperm count, motility and morphology that we look at during a semen analysis, are within the normal parameters before we freeze.
We also require that patients undergo viral screening prior to freezing to rule out any infectious diseases that could potentially be transmitted during the usage of this sperm in the future.