Egg freezing to preserve fertilityknchua
Elective egg freezing is an option for women to preserve fertility and conceive later in life. This means that eggs with better reproductive potential (harvested at a younger age) are available when one becomes older. Frozen eggs can then be thawed, fertilised and transferred back to the womb through IVF.
Fertility rates in Singapore
Fertility rates for women in Singapore fell to a low of 1.10 births in 2020 . There is also a shift in women marrying and having children later. However, women face the inevitable decline in fertility with increasing age.
Why is egg freezing done?
There are several reasons why women choose to have their eggs frozen:
- For medical reasons. They may have a medical condition such as autoimmune disorders that lower her chance to become pregnant. Secondly, woman who need cancer treatment or surgery on reproductive organs are likely to suffer from infertility afterwards.
- For non-medical reasons. Some women have children later in life due to career aspirations or lack of a suitable partner, but still wish to preserve their fertility. Elective egg freezing enables them to do so.
How is egg freezing done?
- Preparations before the procedure
Pre-programme preparations include counselling, consent, and blood screening during the first consultation. Next, the woman has hormone injections for about 2 weeks to produce multiple follicles. The follicles’ growth is assessed via ultrasound scans and an egg retrieval is scheduled once the follicles reach a certain size. Under sedation, the eggs from the follicles are aspirated using a needle by the fertility doctor.
- The egg freezing process
After retrieval, mature eggs are frozen by the embryologist. Egg freezing is done via the flash- freezing method, known as ‘vitrification’. Here, the eggs are immersed into a solution containing cryoprotectants which prevents the formation of harmful ice crystals. The eggs are then brought into extremely low temperatures of liquid nitrogen and stored in cryo-tanks.
Regulations on egg freezing
The ministry of health has announced that women aged between 21 and 35 will soon be allowed to freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons to preserve their fertility, with the introduction of the Assisted Reproduction Services Regulations early next year (2023) .
However, only legally married couples can use their frozen eggs to try for a baby through in- vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Take away message
Egg freezing has enabled women, especially those whom are medically-indicated, or are not in a position to start a family to preserve their fertility for the future. Before opting for freezing, they should consider the likelihood of success, the costs of freezing and storage, and the risks involved. Connect with us here.
1. DOS | SingStat Website – Total Fertility Rate. (n.d.). Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.singstat.gov.sg/modules/infographics/total-fertility-rate
2. Singapore to allow women, including singles, to freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons | The Straits Times. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-to-allow-women-including-singles-to- freeze-their-eggs-for-non-medical-reasons