Fertility on Ice – Learn about Egg Freezing

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Fertility on ice

What you should know about egg freezing

We often hear of the expression “ticking biological clock,” but what does this actually mean for a woman? Well, here are the facts and figures. As a woman, you were born with about one to two million immature eggs or follicles, and these begin to die off as soon as you leave your mother’s womb.

By the time you’ve reached puberty, you’ll only have about 400,000 follicles left, and with each menstrual cycle, you’ll lose thousands more. Due to the loss of follicles throughout your reproductive life, when you’ve reached your mid 30s, your fertility would have sharply declined. And in your late 40s, any follicles that remain are unlikely to mature due to the hormonal changes brought on by menopause.

Now that you understand a little more about eggs, let’s find out why some women choose to freeze theirs and what it entails.

What is it?

Just as the name suggests, in egg freezing, a woman’s unfertilised eggs are frozen through a process called vitrification. This is done so that the eggs can be stored for many years. When a woman is ready, the eggs can be thawed and fertilised with sperm. Once the egg has developed into a healthy embryo, it can be transferred to the woman’s uterus for a chance of pregnancy.

 

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Why?

Some women choose to freeze their eggs because they are currently not in the position to become pregnant and they want to preserve their healthiest eggs. One of the leading reasons for egg freezing is serious illness. For example, a woman who is undergoing cancer therapy may worry about the impact of the treatment on her fertility. As such, she may have her healthy eggs removed and frozen for future use before she undergoes treatment.

Other women, on the other hand, may be concerned about age-related infertility. Though a woman may be at her most fertile between her 20s and early 30s, for some women, childbearing is unavoidably delayed due to education, career or personal goals. Through egg freezing, a woman can store her healthy eggs for use in the future, enabling her to start a family when she is ready. A woman’s age when her eggs are frozen also affects her chances of conceiving later in life. For example, if she opts to freeze her eggs during her late 30s, her chances of pregnancy are significantly lower.

How?

Much like the early stages of IVF, the egg freezing cycle takes about 10-12 days. The woman will give herself daily shots of hormone injections, which stimulate her ovaries and ripen her eggs. When her eggs have matured, they are removed using a special needle that is inserted through her vagina. An ultrasound is used to help guide the needle and the woman is sedated, so she will not feel any pain. Once retrieved, the eggs are immediately flash frozen.

 

Is it safe?

In a word – yes! To date, more than 300,000 children have been born worldwide from frozen embryos and studies conducted in recent years have shown that the use of frozen eggs does not increase pregnancy complications or birth defects.

If you’d like to learn more about egg freezing and the costs involved, don’t hesitate to speak to a fertility specialist.

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Fight Oxidative Stress

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Fight Oxidative Stress
The effects of alcohol, smoking and pollutants on women’s fertility
We all know that the excessive intake of alcohol, smoking and environmental pollutants are bad for our health, but can they negatively impact a woman’s chances of getting pregnant? The answer is a resounding (and unsurprising) yes! Here’s why – Firstly, as toxicants, they cause our bodies to produce Reactive Oxygen Species or ROS, which are highly-reactive ions and molecules that contain oxygen. ROS are a lot like free radicals, and they are both known to wreak havoc in our bodies by damaging proteins and impairing their function.
Usually, our bodies are able to neutralise the harmful effects of ROS and free radicals with antioxidants. However, when an imbalance in the production of ROS and free radicals occurs, our bodies are unable to cope. As a result, our bodies undergo what’s called – oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a physiological condition that’s linked to a variety of health issues, including neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease; cancer; heart problems; blood vessel, gut and vision disorders; lung conditions; chronic fatigue syndrome; kidney, autoimmune, arthritis and inflammatory disease; diabetes; pancreatitis and more.
There is also mounting evidence on the negative effects of oxidative stress on male subfertility, including decreased sperm motility and numbers. And now, findings indicate that oxidative stress can increase the risk for female infertility, as well as delaying pregnancies and lowering pregnancy rates. It can even lead to pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and even miscarriage.
While the field is currently understudied and there is so much more to discover, there is no denying that it is crucial for us to gain a better understanding of how to combat oxidative stress. “If we can identify factors that can be modified to decrease oxidative stress in women, it may be an inexpensive and non-invasive treatment for infertility,” states a study called The Impact of oxidative stress on female fertility by Elizabeth H. Ruder, Terryl J. Hartman, and Marlene B. Goldmanc.
But does this mean we have to play the waiting game for more research to be conducted on the subject? While it may be a few years time before scientists can identify the factors that can be modified to fight oxidative stress, there are steps you can take right now.
We know that oxidation occurs when we’re exposed to toxins, chemicals and stress. Therefore, it would be highly beneficial for you to minimise your exposure to triggers that are present in your lifestyle, foods and environment. Numerous studies have also shown the benefits of a healthy and varied diet, which is supplemented with multivitamins and antioxidants.
In addition, you can maintain your reproductive health by limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, quitting cigarettes, getting adequate exercise, learning ways to manage daily stress and maintaining a healthy body weight. By taking these steps and making crucial lifestyle changes, you can significantly enhance your fertility and boost your chances of conception. Not sure where to begin? Don’t hesitate to speak to a healthcare professional to get on the right track.

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