While women are born with between one and two million eggs, this number decreases relatively quickly over the lifespan (at a rate of approximately 750 per month). Furthermore, the quality of the remaining eggs (in terms of their ability to result in successful fertilisation and pregnancy) also diminishes over the lifespan. This is one of the main reasons for the decrease in pregnancy rates that is found as age increases, with the chances of pregnancy becoming very small after the age of around forty-five.
As a result of this biological trend, the popularity of egg or embryo freezing has steadily increased over the years since the technology became viable. Since 1986, when the first successful frozen egg birth was reported, the techniques involved have become more and more refined, and the overall success rates have increased considerably. This allows young women who are uncertain about whether or not they will want children at a future date to freeze their most viable eggs for use at a later date, instead of compromising their chances of successful pregnancy by relying on the lower-quality eggs they may be left with as their age increases. Women who are concerned about their future fertility due to medical reasons (such as chemotherapy treatment) may also benefit from egg or embryo freezing.
Until recent years, the freezing process left many eggs vulnerable to damage due to ice crystal formation, but recent scientific breakthroughs (including the dehydration and subsequent rehydration of the egg, as well as ultra-rapid freezing) have been able to overcome these problems, bringing the procedure into the medical mainstream and guaranteeing the success of most frozen egg births. Fertilised eggs (or embryos) can also be stored in a similar way and implanted into the womb at a later date.
The process of egg or embryo freezing is relatively straightforward and begins with an assessment of the ovarian reserve of the woman in question. By using a combination of ultrasound and measurement of hormonal levels, the number of viable eggs in a woman’s ovaries can be estimated. If this number is acceptable, hormone therapy follows to create an optimal environment for egg retrieval. At the correct time, the procedure of egg retrieval is performed under sedation. This process is painless, requires no hospitalisation, and lasts only a few hours, requiring only a day of recovery time. Once retrieved, the eggs or embryos are inspected, prepared, and frozen by a qualified embryologist. Under proper storage conditions, the frozen eggs/embryos can last for up to ten years.
Cape Town, South Africa is one of the number one destinations worldwide for medical tourism, and is particularly well known for the quality of its fertility treatments as well as the comparatively low cost of such procedures. Medical Tourism SA is partnered with several fertility clinics in the Cape Town area, and within South Africa at large, all of which make use of the most cutting-edge technology and sophisticated medical procedures to ensure that your egg or embryo freezing process is a comfortable and successful one.
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