More and more women are wanting to have a child at a later point in their lives: when it suits their job, when they have found the right partner, when they themselves feel ready. What is socially understandable is however a challenge for the body’s biology. After the age of 30, the egg’s ability to fertilise diminishes significantly. At the age of 38-40 it deteriorates even more drastically. This comes down to the reason that a woman is born with a finite egg stock. Each egg cell is therefore as old as the woman herself. By the time it ovulates, it has already been exposed to the natural ageing process and external influences (such as smoking, medication etc.). There is therefore a significant amount of genetic change in the egg cells after the age of 35. The root cause of numerical chromosomal disorders such as trisomy 21 (down’s syndrome), can also come down to the older age of the mother. For women who have not yet had a child by the age of 35 and would still like to, for some years now there has been the option to freeze eggs for later use.
Social freezing refers to the freezing of eggs (‘egg banking’) in order to preserve fertility at an older age. For several years, the procedure has become increasingly popular and the medical technology more sophisticated.
The medical director of our practice gave an interview on this topic some time ago and explained in it to whom he recommends this procedure.
The unfertilised eggs are stored in liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees, thus remaining in the same condition as they were when collected for many years. Due to the extremely low temperatures, little to low metabolism takes place in the egg cell inhibiting the ageing process. This method makes it possible to induce pregnancy, even if the ovaries or their function have been lost (for example after chemotherapy or very early menopause).
Cryopreservation is a particularly delicate and complex procedure for freezing eggs. The freezing process is computer-controlled and lasts several hours. Gradually the eggs are brought down to -190 degrees in liquid nitrogen. In this “cold sleep”, the eggs are viable for several years. There is no evidence that freezing increases the risk of foetal disabilities or genetic disorders.
Cryopreservation can also be used for other reasons, which we explain under “Additional Measures/Cryopreservation”.
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