Ask us: How can I freeze my eggs, in the UAE?

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Gulf News reader Erum Arif, 30, is considering freezing her eggs. And while there are provisions for this type of fertility preservation in the UAE, she wonders if her marital status – she is unmarried – requires a specific process. She also asked us about the annual egg keeping fee and if you could donate your frozen eggs. We asked the domain experts to weigh in – here’s what they had to say:

Maria Banti, Senior Clinical Embryologist and IVF Laboratory Manager at UAE-based Orchid Fertility, explains, “Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is a method that allows women to store their eggs and to use them later in life. This is an option for those who are not ready to get pregnant now, but would like to have children in the future. Egg quality declines as a woman ages, so freezing your eggs at a younger age means you’re putting time on hold. This allows women to use these younger eggs later in life, thus having a higher risk of pregnancy and a lower risk of miscarriage or having an unhealthy baby compared to trying naturally at an older age. advanced. For example, a 35-year-old woman can freeze her eggs and use them at 40. The eggs will still be 35 years old!

What does a woman’s age have to do with her fertility?

This is the most important influencing factor, explained Dr. Shiva Harikirshnan, senior consultant in obstetrics and gynecology, Medcare Women and Children Hospital, in an earlier interview with Gulf News. “The maximum age of fertility is 18 to 28 years old. At the age of 30, fertility begins to decline in women. The decline becomes more rapid after 35 years. Women have a fixed number of eggs (usually around two to three million) and it starts to decrease even before birth and it decreases at the rate of 10% every year, he says.

What are the cases where you should consider it?

Dr. Pankaj Shrivastav, director of the UAE-based Conceive Clinic, explains that women who seek to freeze their eggs usually do so for medical or social reasons.

Medical reasons: “I see a lot of patients of oncologists; they are referred to us. In other words, someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma or leukemia and who is going to undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy will make a person sterile on the whole, so nowadays oncologists will refer them to us. Now there are treatments so excellent that it is assumed that they will be cured within the next three to four years, but by then, because of all the chemotherapy or radiation they have had, it may be that they no longer have many eggs. So if we have banked eggs, those can be used to achieve pregnancy, he explains.

I see a lot of patients of oncologists; they are referred to us. In other words, someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma or leukemia and who is going to undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy will make a person sterile overall…if we have banked eggs, these can be used to achieve pregnancy.

-Dr. Pankaj Shrivastav

Social reason: “And there is also a social reason for egg freezing and that is that single women haven’t found the right person to have a baby with but don’t want to miss the bus. So we find women at 32, 34 or 36, who come to us and say, “I don’t know if I’ll find someone, but assuming I will or I hope I will and I don’t want to not reach the age of 40, find the right person and realize that my eggs are almost finished,” he adds.

How does egg freezing work?

Banti explains, “The whole process takes about two weeks. The woman must take medication to produce more eggs and go to the clinic regularly for blood tests and ultrasounds. The eggs will be retrieved while the woman is under anesthesia and will be frozen in the embryology lab the same day. The eggs will be stored in liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees Celsius until it is time to use them. The storage period does not affect the quality of the eggs. When the time comes, the eggs will be thawed, fertilized in the laboratory, and the embryos will be transferred to the woman’s uterus.

egg freezing

When the time comes, the eggs will be thawed, fertilized in the laboratory, and the embryos will be transferred to the woman’s uterus.

Dr lamia Al Sayegh, reproductive medicine and infertility specialist at Fakih IVF Dubai, explains that the process of egg freezing involves three steps. She explains them like this

Stimulation and monitoring: During stimulation, patients will receive subcutaneous injections of gonadotropins (follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone) for 10 to 12 days. She would be monitored during this time with serial ultrasounds and blood tests to make sure the follicle is growing properly and in sync. Once they have all reached an appropriate size, the patient is given a trigger pull in preparation for the egg retrieval procedure.

Egg retrieval is done in a minimally invasive way, which means that it usually leaves no scars, does not require stitches and has a short recovery time.

-Dr Lamia Al Sayegh

Egg retrieval: This procedure is performed in a minimally invasive way, which means that it usually leaves no scars, does not require stitches, and has a short recovery time. It consists of introducing a needle into the vaginal cul-de-sac under ultrasound control and aspirating the follicles. It is a painless procedure since it is performed under sedatives. The procedure usually takes only 10-15 minutes from administering the anesthesia to completing the egg retrieval procedure.

Vitrification: A few hours after retrieval, only fully mature eggs will be frozen through a process called vitrification – a technique of rapid freezing in liquid nitrogen (which is 196 degrees below zero Celsius) to reduce the formation of ice crystals on the eggs and improve their survival. rates.

Is it legal to freeze my eggs in the UAE?

She adds: “According to UAE law, all married women are allowed to freeze their eggs. For single women, egg freezing can be done as long as there is a valid medical reason (such as polycystic ovary syndrome, advanced maternal age (i.e. over 35), etc. .) and approval from the Ministry of Health has been obtained. Once frozen, the eggs can be stored for up to five years and you must sign a consent every year to renew the storage.“

According to UAE law, all married women are allowed to freeze their eggs. For single women, egg freezing can be done as long as there is a valid medical reason.

-Maria Banti

What is the annual cost of freezing eggs?

According to information on the Dubai Fertility Center website, it costs Dh3,500 for egg freezing and the first year of storage.

Do you have a pregnancy or parenting related question that you would like to ask the Gulf News Parenting Team? We can get your question answered by the right experts – email [email protected]

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