The law around egg freezing is changing.
After a public consultation, and thanks to new technology, the government has announced that people who want children will be able to store frozen eggs, sperm and embryos for up to 55 years.
Under the new system, people will be given the choice of whether to keep or dispose of their frozen eggs every decade.
The changes will be especially helpful for young people and children, who freeze their sex cells before cancer treatments that can affect fertility.
Metro.co.uk found out everything there is to know about the egg freezing process from bonafide expert, Dr Ippokratis Sarris, director and consultant in reproductive medicine at King’s Fertility.
How do you know it is safe to freeze your eggs somewhere?
If you are considering freezing your eggs, then the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) website is the best place to start.
Only fertility centres listed on this website can legally operate in the UK.
Helpfully, clinic success rates are also listed here – though it’s important to remember this is not just based on how good the clinic is, but also the health and age of those getting treatment.
Dr Sarris says you should look out for more established facilities.
‘As a rule of thumb, clinics that perform large numbers of these procedures per year are more likely to have the required expertise,’ he tells Metro.co.uk
What should you consider before freezing your eggs?
‘Just because one can store eggs, it does not mean it is also the right decision for them,’ explains Dr Saris.
Anyone interested in freezing their eggs should check whether it is more risky for them than others for medical reasons.
It is also important to know that freezing your eggs does not guarantee you can have children in future.
Interestingly, ‘a significant proportion’ of people who store eggs do not end up using them, says Dr Sarris.
‘We find that many people find it difficult to say they wish to dispose of their unused eggs, sperm or embryos, as the decision can be psychologically difficult.’
How long does it take to freeze your eggs?
Before you start actually freezing your eggs, you are likely to have a medical consultation, blood tests and an ultrasound scan.
After that, the actual process is about two to three weeks long.
How does freezing your eggs actually work?
Someone who wants to freeze their eggs starts by taking daily injections themselves for a couple of weeks.
These injections contain two or three medicines, which stimulate the ovaries to produce the fluid filled sacs that eggs are inside called folliclules.
The injections also help control ovulation so the eggs can be collected.
Every few days, medical professionals do ultrasound scans to check everything is progressing as it should. Those checks take 20-30 minutes.
To check hormone levels, blood tests might also be taken.
When the follicules have grown enough, a final special injection is given and the eggs are collected two days later.
When a person’s eggs are collected, they will be under anaesthetic. According to Dr Saris, sometimes local or general anaesthetic is used.
Using ultrasound, so they can see what they’re doing, medical professionals pass a needle through the vaginal wall, then into the ovaries and into each follicule. Collecting the eggs takes around 20-30 minutes.
Afterwards, the person might need up to two hours to recover from symptoms such as spotting and lower abdomen pain.
Paracetamol or Ibuprofen should be strong enough to help with this.
Fluid from the follicules is taken out and into a lab. There, a specialist uses a microscope to take out the eggs.
Eggs are then checked, to make sure they’re mature enough.
Within hours, they are frozen using a fast freezing process and stored in special tanks.
The tanks are electronically monitored and maintained.
The next day, a person will normally be able to continue with their normal activities and their period is likely to arrive within two weeks.
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