Making a feminist's case for freezing eggs, Dr Reubina KD Singh, an infertility specialist from Gurugram, speaks on why she opted for cryopreservation at a young age.
In 2014, when I was 29, I decided to freeze my eggs. Four years later, in 2018, I decided to use those eggs and had my twin children. My name is Dr Reubina KD Singh, an infertility specialist from Gurugram, and this is the story of why I chose to freeze my eggs.
I had completed my post-graduation in medicine and had just started working. I was not ready to get married and far from even thinking about starting a family at that time. My dream at that time was to go for a Fellowship programme in infertility and if that were to happen I needed to focus all my energy on my academics, and not building my family.
At the time, I chose to get my eggs frozen, I had not met the person I wanted to spend my life with. At the same time, as a doctor, I knew that with the passage of time the quality of eggs that the body produces starts to decrease and chances of chromosomal problems like Down syndrome increases with age. Therefore the option of freezing my eggs until the right moment seemed like a viable option.
In medical terms, egg freezing is known as cryopreservation.
It was way back in 1986 that the first baby was conceived from a frozen egg. Since then, many women the world over have opted for this process to give them both time and flexibility to start a family. In case one decides to not use the frozen eggs for any reason, they are at liberty to either donate the eggs to someone who is unable to conceive or even discard them.
While it is an established procedure, many people still have reservations around the procedure. Despite having doctor parents, I found that that they had their own apprehensions. What they did not seem to understand was my need to freeze my eggs.
Since it is not a very well-known procedure, even my parents had their apprehensions. It always boiled down to ‘why the need to get this done’ when my body was fully capable of producing babies the normal way. After a point, I gave up on convincing them and went right ahead.
Since I was already a professional I could put together the money that this procedure required. It will cost you anywhere between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakhs to get your eggs extracted and frozen in India.
Process to get your eggs frozen
• Ideally, women should consider getting this done between 25 to 35 years of age. This is the time when the quality and the number of eggs your body produces is at its optimum best.
• Before one opts for the procedure, an AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) test is performed, which checks a woman’s ability to produce eggs that can be fertilised for pregnancy. The AMH levels help show how many potential egg cells a woman has left.
• From the second day of a woman’s menstrual cycle, hormone injections are administered every day for 10 consecutive days.
• One does not need to visit a doctor or hospital for this. The injections can be administered on your own at home.
• It’s a pen like injection which can be self-administered and they are also painless.
• Once the injections are all administered, the doctor conducts an ultrasound to ascertain whether or not the eggs are ready.
• This is followed by a small invasive procedure called ovum-pickup, wherein a needle is inserted via the vagina and the eggs are extracted.
• Once the eggs are extracted, the same are kept in liquid nitrogen until the woman decides to have a baby.
• One can keep the eggs frozen for any number of years. The eggs are kept frozen in liquid nitrogen, which has the property to arrest growth in any tissue but does not kill the tissue.
At the time when the hormone injections are administered, nausea, mood swings, abdominal discomfort, bloating and irritability may be experienced.
The only risk is if the woman produces too many eggs and the medicines cause the ovaries to enlarge. This is also an issue that can be tackled with medication. Therefore, there are no life-threatening side-effects of getting this done.
After the retrieval of the eggs I felt some heaviness in my stomach for about two hours after which I even drove back home by myself. It was a very comfortable procedure and for me the reward was far greater than the slight discomfort I underwent.
– Dr Reubina KD Singh, As Told To Vidya Raja.