“Delayed motherhood”: what you need to know for women who decide to freeze eggs

Health Tips

Avoid the biological trap

Among the programs of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), “delayed motherhood” is beginning to develop at an ever faster pace: the collection of oocytes (eggs) at the peak of reproductive health with their subsequent deep freezing – vitrification. This allows a woman to avoid the biological trap – depletion of the ovarian reserve with age and deterioration of its quality – and makes it possible to plan the birth of a child at the most convenient time for herself, without risking professional and career prospects.

In addition, sometimes this is the only way out for women who have found serious health problems that threaten the very function of childbearing.

“The effectiveness of ART has specific age restrictions due to female physiology: the older the patient, the more difficult it is for her to become pregnant and the higher the risk of complications. The generally accepted boundary of the “problem-free” age can be considered 35 years – after it, the rate of deterioration in the quality of eggs begins to increase rapidly. If at the age of 35 the number of euploid (with the correct set of chromosomes suitable for embryo transfer) is 60%, then by the age of 39 it decreases to 45%, and by the age of 40-43 this number becomes below 20%. Accordingly, the chances of IVF success also fall significantly – from 75 to 40% or less.

How “delayed pregnancy” looks in practice:

  • comprehensive examination (tests and communication with a doctor);

  • solution of identified problems – treatment, if necessary;

  • stimulation of superovulation according to an optimal and safe protocol;

  • freezing and storage of eggs for a specified period;

  • the actual IVF procedure;

  • pregnancy and childbirth.

Who can’t and how much does it cost?

The set of analyzes for “delayed motherhood” includes, in addition to standard general blood and urine tests, a hormonal background check (including female hormones and thyroid hormones), smears for certain infections, and functional diagnostics. In a word, approximately what is done at the medical examination.

As for contraindications, they are described in the order of the Ministry of Health of Russia (No. 107n of August 30, 2012). Among them are a number of serious diseases like tuberculosis, severe endocrine and anatomical disorders, and some oncological diseases. In any case, the decision is made after consultation with the relevant doctors.

Today, “delayed motherhood” is not very popular, largely due to the low awareness of women. However, according to clinic statistics, the frequency of visits reaches 10% of the total number of IVF cycles. That is, for a modern medical organization, this is about 100 cycles per year. Among those who applied, according to Elena Mladova, three main types of patients can be distinguished:

– women before the planned surgical intervention on the ovaries (for example, before the removal of endometriomas);

– patients with serious illnesses – for example, with breast cancer;

– not having a partner or postponing pregnancy for other reasons (social preservation of fertility).

By Moscow standards, the procedure is quite affordable – the cost is about 150,000 rubles. In addition, the storage of biological material is paid – approximately 50,000 rubles for five years (with the possibility of extension). And yes, the modern technology of instant freezing at a very low temperature – vitrification – makes it possible to achieve almost 100% release of eggs and embryos from hibernation, and they can be stored indefinitely.

How everything happens in reality

“I froze my eggs when I was 35 years old. The procedure itself is a standard IVF story, only without embryo transfer. First you need to pass a mountain of tests. Then the doctor prescribes an appointment for 2-3 days of the cycle. From this day begins hormonal stimulation. Stimulation schemes are different – from minimum to maximum. It depends on how strongly you need to stimulate the ovaries, as well as on weight. In the minimum injection is done only once. Then you live a normal life, work and periodically go to the control ultrasound. There are programs where you inject yourself with a drug in the morning and in the evening (in the stomach) with an automatic syringe pen, as for diabetics. When I worked late, I managed to do it in the office in the toilet.

Closer to the middle of the cycle, you feel pregnant, because if in a normal cycle one egg matures, then here I, for example, had 28 pieces. During this period, you need to refrain from physical exertion so that the cells do not burst ahead of time. When the eggs mature, two more injections are made, the next day – a puncture. The puncture procedure takes place under anesthesia and lasts less than 20 minutes. An hour later, I left for work.

As far as cells are concerned, perhaps the most important thing that is not discussed in commercial clinic consultations is that when you thaw the cells to fertilize and freeze again until replanting, it will be an additional burden for them. After several defrosting, the embryos take root worse. If possible, immediately freeze not the eggs, but the fertilized embryos ready for transfer.”

Photo: Depositphotos.com, Pexels.com

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