Explained by Dr Kiriakidis from Embryolab Fertility Clinic
Over the last decades, we have witnessed a change in priorities and goals for both men and women. The constant need for education and the pursuit of professional development has marginalised the desire to start a family for both genders. Many couples now intentionally choose to delay the beginning of family life. Finding the right partner in the fast-paced daily routine has also significantly become more challenging. Unfortunately, our fertility is not unchanging, and women are more vulnerable to the passage of time.
Fortunately reproductive medicine has provided a solution for this significant problem. With the modern method of in vitro fertilisation, cryopreservation of eggs has become highly effective while the treatment is quite patient-friendly. For this reason, the prevailing recommendation now is to preserve eggs before the age of 35 when the quality and quantity are at good levels.
Treatment options for women vary between egg-freezing, pooling or batching.
This involves collecting a woman’s eggs in a single ovarian stimulation cycle and then freezing them for use in future IVF cycles. The eggs are thawed when the woman is ready to undergo IVF, and they are then fertilised with sperm in the laboratory to create embryos.
This approach is often used when a woman is at risk of losing her ovarian function due to medical treatment or other reasons, such as cancer treatment or premature ovarian failure. Egg pooling can help preserve a woman’s fertility and increase her chances of having a successful pregnancy in the future.
This involves collecting a woman’s eggs in multiple ovarian stimulation cycles and freezing them until a sufficient number of eggs are available for use in a single IVF cycle. The eggs are then thawed and fertilised with sperm to create embryos.
This can be helpful for women who produce a limited number of eggs during each ovarian stimulation cycle, as it can increase the chances of a successful pregnancy by providing a larger number of eggs for fertilisation. Egg batching can also be beneficial for women who wish to have multiple children, as the extra eggs collected and frozen can be used for future IVF cycles. However, the success rate of egg batching can depend on several factors, including the age and overall health of the woman, the quality of the eggs collected, and the laboratory techniques used for fertilisation and embryo development.
While both egg pooling and egg batching involve freezing a woman’s eggs for use in future IVF cycles, the main difference lies in the timing of egg collection.
The process for egg pooling typically involves the following steps:
- Ovarian stimulation: The woman is given hormonal medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
- Monitoring: The woman’s response to the medication is monitored using ultrasound scans and blood tests to track the growth of the ovarian follicles.
- Egg retrieval: When the ovarian follicles have reached an appropriate size, the eggs are retrieved using a minimally invasive procedure called transvaginal ultrasound-guided egg retrieval.
- Egg freezing: The eggs are then frozen using a technique called vitrification, which involves rapidly freezing the eggs in liquid nitrogen to prevent ice crystal formation.
- Storage: The frozen eggs are stored in a specialised laboratory until the woman is ready to undergo IVF.
- IVF treatment: When the woman is ready to undergo IVF, the frozen eggs are thawed and then fertilized with sperm in the laboratory to create embryos.
- Embryo transfer: The resulting embryos are then transferred into the woman’s uterus, with the goal of achieving a successful pregnancy.
The process for egg batching is the same, with the only difference being that the process of ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, and egg freezing is repeated in subsequent cycles until a sufficient number of eggs have been collected for use in a single IVF cycle.
Egg pooling and egg batching are techniques used in many fertility clinics that offer IVF treatment. However, the availability of these techniques may vary depending on the clinic’s expertise, resources, and patient needs. Not all clinics may offer egg pooling or egg batching, or they may have specific criteria or limitations for their use. It is important to discuss these options with your fertility specialist to determine if they are appropriate for your individual situation and to identify clinics that have experience in performing these procedures. Your fertility specialist can help you understand the benefits and limitations of these techniques and guide you in selecting a clinic that meets your needs.
EMBRYOLAB continues to transform lives and create new families around the world, with refinements in clinical and laboratory techniques driving an improvement in outcomes. There is no doubt that as our society evolves at a rapid pace, the issue of reproductive age will become increasingly significant. Both for the general public and for medical professionals, education and information are essential to disseminate these messages and ensure that women have all the necessary information to make decisions about their reproductive health.
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