Egg freezing offers the potential of fertility preservation

A new documentary on BBC iPlayer, Egg Freezing and Me, highlights how egg freezing is one of the fastest growing treatments in the UK and shows some of the moving reasons why some people might opt to do it. Bourn Hall Clinic was pleased to be featured in the programme and, as a clinic which prides itself on being fully transparent with our patients, supports the calls for all clinics to do the same.

Irrespective of whether a woman is freezing her eggs for medical or social reasons, the age at which she does so is the most important factor affecting her chances of eventually having a baby. The optimum window to freeze is before she reaches 35. This is because after the age of 35 the eggs may be of poorer quality and there is a greater risk of miscarriage.

There are many situations where a woman might choose to freeze her eggs. These include: genetic conditions where a woman may be unable to carry a pregnancy; ahead of chemotherapy, a process that can reduce the quality of eggs and may cause a reduction in ovarian reserve; before a surgical procedure that may damage the ovaries, or where there is a family history of premature ovarian failure.

Fertility preservation is also a viable choice for transgender patients before undergoing gender reassignment treatment, offering the possibility of having genetically related children in the future.

Bourn Hall’s egg banks are also available for social freezing purposes in situations where starting a family immediately is not feasible or desired.

When required for fertility treatment, the eggs are thawed and inseminated with sperm (either her partner’s or donor sperm) and one of the resulting embryos will be transferred using the same procedure as in a conventional IVF embryo transfer.

It is difficult to give success rates for the use of frozen eggs for IVF treatment as it is still an option selected by a relatively small sample of women. There is also a risk that not all of the eggs will thaw successfully or fertilise to create embryos.

Dr Sharleen Hapuarachi, Consultant Gynaecologist at Bourn Hall Clinic who features in the documentary says:

“Egg freezing is not an absolute guarantee which is what I am sure some clinics are ‘selling’ it as. By no means would I want to suggest to someone who is thinking about pregnancy to delay it, because we all know the earlier you become pregnant, in your twenties, early thirties, is the safest way to do it.

“Egg freezing for some women can be empowering and our advice would be that if freezing your eggs is something you would like to explore then don’t leave it too late if you want to maximise your chances of success. We will support you in your journey.”

Bourn Hall offers a fully transparent and individualised approach to the options and treatments available. All our patients are offered counselling to help them consider all the implications of their decisions.

For more information, please contact us.

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