December 26, 2020
Gone are the days when females, after completion of their graduation, would get married off at a tender age of 22-25 years. And soon after marriage, they would be ready to conceive. Now, we live in an era where every female wants to focus on her career, wants to fulfill her dreams, attain financial independence and stability, and then think about getting married and having children. This is a positive change in today’s women but at the same time, it also brings us face to face with the problem of declining ovarian reserve with growing age. As, we all know, every female has a fixed reserve of eggs which is decided at the time of birth. As her age advances, her egg reserve goes on decreasing. 20 to 30 years is the best time for a woman to conceive. After 30 years, her egg reserve goes on decreasing at a faster rate and after 35 years both quality and quantity of eggs are affected which leads to increased risk of genetic defects. So by the time a woman settles down in her career and decides to plan pregnancy, her ovarian reserve becomes low which can even compel her to go for egg donation program. Today, with the advancements in technology in the field of assisted reproduction, egg/oocyte freezing has turned out to be a blessing for such career-oriented women.
Cryopreservation is a process of cooling and storing human eggs, sperms or embryos at very low temperatures to maintain their viability.
Social freezing, as we call it, is a practice wherein normal, fertile women are encouraged to freeze their oocytes at a younger age so that they can have children with their own eggs even at the age of 40-45 years.
Egg freezing is also beneficial in freezing oocytes in women having cancer who are going for chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Newer advancements in cancer treatments have increased survival rates and thus have also increased chances of future fertility in such women.
It can also be useful in oocyte donation programs where menopausal women can avoid waiting period for search of suitable matching donor female or synchronization of cycles.
Semen can be used successfully indefinitely after cryopreservation.
1. It is important in certain scenarios, for eg. when the husband is not available at the time of ovum pick up.
2. In males with obstructive azoospermia, sperms obtained from TESA/PESA can be frozen to avoid multiple aspirations.
3. Prior to chemotherapy or radiotherapy in a male who wishes to have children in future.
4. Also, if the husband is anxious to give semen in hospital environment on the day of ICSI, semen freezing can be done.
Thus, gamete cryopreservation has made it possible for couples to conceive with their own egg/sperm at a later age and even after chemo or radio therapy (which may be gonadotoxic) or when conception was delayed for other medical reasons.
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