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What is egg freezing?
Have you always pictured yourself as a mother, but you're not quite ready or not in the position to have children? Women who cannot currently, or choose not to currently become pregnant have the option of freezing eggs for future use.
The fact is, as we age our eggs decrease in quality and it becomes more difficult to become pregnant. But not all women are ready to become pregnant during their 20s, when egg quality is at its highest. Egg freezing enables you to delay your decision to become pregnant until a more suitable time.
The most common reasons women choose egg freezing include:
- Cancer treatment: If you are undergoing chemotherapy , radiation or surgery for cancer, you may wish to freeze eggs in advance, in case your cancer treatment compromises your ability to produce healthy eggs in the future.
- Decision to delay childbearing: If you choose to delay becoming a mother due to education, career or other personal reasons, egg freezing allows you to delay your decision and save your eggs while you are still young.
- Early menopause: If you have a family history of early menopause and are not currently ready to become pregnant, you may choose to freeze eggs now to use with a partner at a later time.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF): If you are using in vitro fertilization to become pregnant, but do not want to manage multiple fertilized embryos, you may choose egg freezing as an alternative to embryo freezing. The eggs would then be unfrozen and fertilized as embryos are needed.
At Main Line Health, we use the latest technique for egg freezing, called vitrification. Unlike traditional slow freezing, which comes with the risk of damage to the egg from the formation of ice crystals, vitrification protects the egg from freezing damage.
During vitrification, the egg is placed into a substance called cryoprotectant. Next, the egg is placed in liquid nitrogen and frozen instantly. There is no time for ice crystals to form, therefore the egg is not
at risk for damage from ice crystals, which causes fractures in the egg when it thaws.