What is common between ex-Miss World Diana Hayden, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian? Well, they all planned ahead and froze their eggs in time. In fact, congratulations are in order for Diana Hayden, who became a first-time mom to baby Arya Hayden at the age of 42, by using the eggs she froze over eight years ago.
This revolutionary technology is touted as a game-changer and helps women beat their biological clock.
Renowned IVF specialist, Dr Nandita Palshetkar, Diana’s doctor, confirms to The Quint, that the ex-Miss World approached her in 2007, when the technology was first approved in India, to freeze her eggs.
Dr Nandita Palshetkar, IVF Specialist, Lilavati Hospital
Diana was 32 years old when she froze 16 eggs, that was in 2007. Today, the interest in the technology is so high that 2 to 3 women per month are freezing their eggs in my practice.
Freezing the egg was a boon for Diana because when she decided to have a baby at 40, she was found to be suffering from endometriosis - a medical condition which makes pregnancy difficult since the endometrial cells are located outside the uterus.
Not much is known about egg freezing in India, the issue is still controversial and the big question is, it worked for Diana, but does it work for everyone?
Why Freeze Your Eggs?
Frozen in Time But Is It A Guarantee?
- Egg freezing costs Rs 2-3 lakhs per attempt
- The chance that a single frozen egg will lead to a live birth is about 2 to 12%
- The odds of getting pregnant with frozen eggs, even for a woman in her mid-30s are only 1 in 5
That tick-tock of the biological clock sounds much closer, shriller when you’re in your 30s. Come 40, your eggs will dry up. Egg freezing provides options.
Dr Anoop Gupta, IVF Specialist
It empowers women and who doesn’t go for an insurance policy? There are no national estimates as to how many Indian women are opting for it, but with career-oriented women on the rise, I’ve done 10-15 such procedures and get daily enquiries as well.
It’s the first step of an IVF (in vitro fertilisation) process, and by doing it sooner rather than later, you improve your odds of having a healthy baby.
Miracle or a Myth?
There is no Indian study as yet to show how often the eggs yield babies, but a large scale study done by New York University on more than 400 frozen eggs found that only 60 resulted in a live birth. That’s a 15% success rate in the US which boasts of better technology than India.
There are several factors which increase your chances of making a baby with a frozen eggs:
Freeze ‘em young: A woman who freezes her eggs between 30 and 35 years of age will have more than a 50% chance of achieving a successful pregnancy. If freezing between ages 35 and 38, the rate goes down to 35%. And above 40, the success rate is less than10%.
Use ‘em soonish?: After the first two years, the quality of eggs stored might deteriorate.
Freeze multiple eggs: Eggs are delicate, only in 2-12% cases does a single egg survive the thawing process according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
If possible, freeze embryos instead: If you and your partner are not ready for children, freezing embryos rather than eggs will boost your odds of success in the future.
Egg freezing is still elitist, costing anywhere between Rs 1 to 2 lakhs and in India, it is not covered by any insurance policy.
The process is pretty intensive too. It’s not like they just pluck out your eggs and put them in a freezer or like sperm banking; shag in a bottle and hand it over to a lab guy.
You have to take hormonal injections for two weeks to stimulate the ovaries to release new eggs, which can leave you feeling bloated and a little wonky. And then the doctor puts a needle in your vaginal valve to reach the ovaries and extract the eggs; ouch! Thankfully this is under anaesthesia!
So if you’re fully comfortable with the physical and financial demands, go ahead and freeze. Or don’t. With all the high cost and low chances, the decision is neither inherently right, nor guaranteed to produce a certain outcome.