Infertility is not a new subject to Indians. There are over 1 million cases per year and it is a common issue. Thankfully, there are several infertility treatments available because of technological advancements. One common solution to infertility would be fertility preservation. Fertility preservation is the practice of egg freezing/sperm freezing or embryo freezing. More and more people are opting for such treatments to have a biological child of their own. Fertility preservation solutions are popular and safe for intended parents. However, since the internet is big and full of information, the information can be passed on wrong, leading to myths and misconceptions. In this blog on fertility preservation published by Dr. Manish Banker and team, let us discuss who can benefit from it, how to avoid such misconceptions and common myths of egg freezing and sperm freezing.
Who can benefit from fertility preservation?
Apart from infertility, there are many reasons why people choose fertility preservation. It is a recommended solution because it provides people with a sense of security regarding their future.
Here are some of the people who can benefit from fertility preservation.
Fertility preservation can be elective or for medical reasons.
- Elective is for people who wish to conceive later. This can be due to personal reasons like focusing on a career or education. Fertility preservation is also done for financial reasons as well
- Many women delay their marriage due to the above-said reasons. The egg quality and quantity decrease with age and hence it is difficult for them to get pregnant when they decide to get married later on. For such women, egg freezing is a great option. Egg freezing at an early age gives the best chance of pregnancy later on as freezing the egg, also freezes its age.
- For men, lifestyle and environmental factors hinder sperm production and can cause some problems in the future. To avoid this, getting your sperms preserved will ensure that you don’t face any such problem in the future.
- For married couples who do not wish to conceive shortly, egg/sperm freezing or even better embryo freezing is an attractive option. Creating and freezing the embryos will give them a good chance of a pregnancy when they wish to do so.
Fertility preservation for medical reasons can be due to a variety of factors:
- Endometriosis – Women suffering from this disorder might suffer ovarian damage. Endometriosis causes inflammation and chemical changes and can affect your egg quality. Inflammation, scarring and irregular hormone levels is not an ideal environment for sperms to fertilize an egg. Doctors recommend fertility preservation for people suffering from endometriosis as the quality of eggs can deteriorate as well.
- PCOS – Women with PCOS can also opt for fertility preservation because PCOS can lead to infertility if not attended to. As it is possible for their PCOS can get worse due to unforeseen circumstances or factors, women opt for fertility preservation to increase their chances of getting pregnant in the future.
- Cancer patients – Fertility preservation such as sperm freezing or egg freezing is recommended for cancer patients who wish to have a biological child in the future. Chemotherapy and radiation can affect the number and quality of eggs, therefore reducing their chances of having a baby. Hence, many feel fertility preservation is the way forward.
However, it must be noted that these are just a few of the reasons people opt for fertility preservation. A person can experience different reasons apart from the ones mentioned above. As mentioned earlier, it is a popular method however, there are several myths on the topics of egg freezing and sperm freezing. Let’s debunk the most common ones.
How to avoid myths and misconceptions?
Egg or sperm freezing has been a popular solution, especially in the last 10 years or so. To avoid doubts and fears, read up articles written by infertility specialists such as Dr. Banker, Ahmedabad. Sometimes, the information that has been published might not be written by professionals. Whether it is egg freezing or sperm freezing, the most accurate diagnosis and problem solution can only be given by medical health professionals such as a gynecologist or an infertility counselor. One can also make use of parenting magazines, blogs, and forums for emotional support. These days, there are several support groups both online and offline for people to share their experiences. If you are doubtful or concerned then you can ask your questions to such groups and your doctor as well. What is of utmost importance is that you think of fertility preservation in your early years itself. In many cases, people think of fertility preservation only when they near the forties decreasing their chance of preserving healthy eggs or sperms.
Myths about egg freezing and sperm freezing:
- Fertility preservation is risky: While it is normal to feel scared about these procedures, there is no evidence that egg or sperm freezing can potentially harm a woman or the child she will bear. After several studies, it was observed that there is no increased risk in factors like birth defects, chromosomal anomalies, complications during pregnancy in these women. There is no proof that fertility preservation done through sperm or egg freezing poses any risk of cancer to the woman. Side effects, if any, to are quite tolerable. Some women report headache, insomnia, tenderness of breasts, mood swings, bloating, etc. The experience is quite similar to premenstrual syndrome. For men too, the sperm freezing process is 100% safe and pain-free.
- It is a tedious, long and complex process: For fertility preservation in women, hormonal medication is given usually for only 8-11 days before fertility preservation. These medications are injected, and women do not experience much discomfort. Your doctors will request a few times to see if your body is responding well to the medication. When the doctor feels you’re ready, the process of fertility preservation will begin through the retrieval procedure. This is done under anesthesia and hence there is no pain. It is a fairly simple process and there are no stitches. After the eggs are harvested, they are frozen in liquid nitrogen and kept secure for future use. If the couple opts for embryo freezing, embryos are formed after harvesting eggs using the husband’s sperm and then those are frozen. The whole process takes 2 weeks from medication to harvesting and is pain-free.In the case of sperm freezing, the doctor calls the patient for blood work. He/she analyzes the quality and number of sperms. Several factors like the count, shape, and motility, etc, are taken into consideration. Once the doctor approves that the male’s sperm is healthy for sperm freezing, and then they are advised to give a semen sample for freezing.
- Egg freezing or Sperm freezing reduces your fertility in the future: A very common misconception of this type of fertility preservation is that it can affect a woman’s or man’s fertility in the future. All women recruit a group of follicles every month and out of that cohort, one follicle matures and ovulation takes place. The rest are removed by the body. Stimulation with medication uses only those eggs which are anyway going to be thrown out by the body and hence it does not affect your future fertility. So, it is normal for the number of eggs to reduce irrespective of whether you opt for egg freezing or not. Even for males, the sperm quality deteriorates as they age. This is also one of the main reasons why people choose the option of sperm freezing or egg freezing, as the number and quality decrease, their chance of conceiving drops too. Hence, to have a solid plan, doctors recommend fertility preservation.
- Fresh eggs or fresh sperm have better success rates: Currently, no evidence suggests that fresh eggs are better than frozen eggs when it comes to fertility preservation outcomes. There have been healthier pregnancies with frozen eggs. According to Indian Express, research has shown the possibilities of risks like birth defects, pregnancy complications are the same as normal pregnancies. Therefore, sperm freezing or egg freezing can help an intended parent have healthy and normal babies.
- Egg freezing is better for people in their late 30s: For women, many people do consider egg freezing in their thirties. However, the fact is that the younger your eggs are, the healthier they will be. Birth rates start to drop by 10% every two years when women cross the age of 35.
For men, it is recommended to opt for sperm freezing before the age of 40. The parameters for donating sperm is quite simple: The male must not have a family history of cancer or hereditary diseases.
So these are some of the common myths when it comes to fertility preservation. As mentioned before, ensure that any information you seek has been well-researched and written by a professional. Women and men in their twenties and early thirties may not want to conceive immediately but still, wish to have a child of their own later in life. For people who want to postpone their plans of having a baby, fertility preservation is a safe solution that helps intended parents feel secure and confident. Egg freezing or sperm freezing is a completely safe practice, so keep a positive mindset and surely you will be able to build a family of your own. If you would like to read more such blogs by Dr Manish Banker, Ahmedabad, you can visit our website.
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