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In preparation for your cycle we will organise for you to come to the clinic for your blood tests and your nurse consultation. During your nurse consultation your nurse will take you through the process and answer any questions you have. Before and during your cycle we advise that you maintain a healthy and balanced diet and take a Folic Acid and Vitamin D supplement. During your cycle you need to avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeine. Light exercise such as walking, pilates and yoga are all suitable but you should avoid high intensity exercise.
The time it takes to complete one cycle of egg freezing depends on your recommended treatment. However, for most women, one cycle of egg freezing will take between two to four weeks.
In preparation for your treatment, the doctor may recommend the long protocol of stimulation. During this regime, your natural hormone production is supressed to enable the doctor to have complete control of the stimulation of your ovaries and time of ovulation. This is done by daily medication, administered by either an injection or nasal spray. We understand that the thought of administering medication yourself at home can be a daunting one. Therefore, before you start treatment you will have a consultation with one of our experienced nursing team who will be able to explain all medication, demonstrate in detail how to administer them and teach you how to do this at home.
The stimulation phase is designed to optimise the number of eggs your ovaries produce. This is done by daily stimulation medication administered by injection. During this phase of treatment, you will attend the clinic at regular intervals to review your response. These appointments will involve pelvic ultrasound scans and may be supplemented with blood tests. These appointments are important as they enable the doctor to continually review your progress through the stimulation phase and personalise your treatment. This may result in changes to the stimulation dose and will ultimately determine the point at which you will be asked to attend for egg collection.
In preparation for the egg collection, you will be asked to administer an injection 36 hours earlier, to help the eggs mature. For the egg collection appointment you will be asked to have nothing to eat or drink from midnight and to arrive at the clinic 30 minutes before. The egg collection will be done at the clinic and you will be under sedation for the procedure. The sedation will ensure you are not awake for the procedure but, will be awake soon after and will not have to stay overnight. It is recommended you recover slowly, over a period of 48 hours, which includes not driving. Following egg collection, you will not need to administer medication, as a fresh embryo transfer is not planned. Instead, you will cease all medication, and this will result in a bleed within 10-14 days.
When eggs are collected, they are surrounded by a cloud of cells. These cells need to be removed so that the embryologist can have a close look at each individual egg and determine its maturity. The eggs must be at a certain stage of maturity for freezing as only mature eggs will be stored.
Egg vitrification, rapidly super-cools an egg, storing them in a glass-like state preventing the formation of ice crystals which destroy them. We would expect 95% or more of good quality eggs which have been vitrified to survive when being thawed for treatment. Eggs that survive the thawing process quite often progress as though they were never vitrified, achieving fertilisation rates, embryo quality and pregnancy rates comparable to fresh ICSI-IVF cycles.
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Egg freezing is generally a safe and straightforward procedure.
However, the risks must be considered:
· Vitrification, although a routine technique, carries a risk due to the nature of the procedure and a certain egg loss rate should be considered.
· Fertilisation and embryo development cannot be guaranteed following successful egg thawing.
Other lesser risks include:
· Having a multiple pregnancy or birth.
· Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
· Having an ectopic pregnancy.
· Possible birth defects.
These risks, albeit small, will be discussed in detail by your doctor during your treatment consultation.