Priyanka Chopra Jonas froze her eggs: Why some women freeze their eggs, and how it helps in IVF

To freeze or not to freeze?

Freezing her eggs in her early 30s gave actor Priyanka Chopra complete freedom to pursue her career doggedly, and choose when to have a child. She did, at 39, three years after she met her husband, Nick Jonas. Her public confession has gone viral, endorsing the choice available to women, that most women are aware of yet few take: the choice of favouring age-related fertility preservation.


It is an elective decision: one that most women fleetingly think of, yet feel awkward about taking. Tucking away good quality eggs when you are still young, and in good reproductive health is a choice worth considering especially if marriage isn’t your mission in life while searing ahead in your career with your fast paced urban lifestyle.

So, here’s your guide to oocyte vitrification or egg freezing:

Ovaries over time

While you’re working overtime, those ovaries are aging. Keeping in mind that IVF, IUI, egg freezing – nothing offers a 100 percent guarantee of conception – it is vital to examine your best possible options, to have the liberty of exercising a choice later. Oocyte vitrification  makes delayed pregnancy an option by freezing your healthy eggs. When you’re ready to have kids, have your eggs fertilised with the resultant embryo implanted in your uterus. But it’s a little more complex than it sounds.

So, what is the best age to have your eggs drawn and frozen? “Scientific data suggests freezing your eggs in your late 20s or early 30s. It gives you the best chance of success because, at a young age, the vitality is transferred to the egg quality. The energy of the mitochondria and the energy of the egg depends on your age. In your 20s and 30s, you will get both quality as well as an optimum amount of eggs,” says Dr Bharati Dhorepatil, Consultant Infertility Expert, NOVA IVF Fertility, Pune.

The higher your fertility reserve, the healthier your eggs. “Target wrapping up egg freezing within 35 years of age,” says Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar.

With the rising instances of developments including early menopause, juvenile diabetes, and PCOD, examine your decision early on.  The extent of egg freezing for menopausal women stands complicated by multiple factors including age, health, and reproductive history.

The biggest advantage of this elective fertility preservation technique is that the freezing does not require a sperm. Says Madhavi Avate, Functional Nutritionist, Fertility Expert & Lactation Counselor, in Mumbai, “It gives women reproductive freedom, and complete control over their fertility and their lives. Genetic resemblance of your future child is ensured, the possibility of streamlining the number of infertility treatments, and also egg freezing promotes gender equality. Issues including thyroid, PCOD, obesity generate oxidative stress and hormonal imbalances affect egg quality radically. Keep in mind the four requisites – hormonal balance, less oxidative stress, normal thyroid function and healthy BMI, for excellent quality eggs.” This means lifestyle changes like adequate rest, giving up smoking, drinking, and using recreational substances.

While PeeCee may have given the awareness level a much needed, timely shot in the arm, the facilities for egg freezing  are not as widely available in India for women of childbearing age.

The process

Egg freezing takes place in highly specialised facilities at a steady temperature of -196 C in liquid nitrogen storage containers.

This cryopreservation prevents all cellular activity, including aging. Once preserved, the health and viability of the eggs remains constant. Does the egg carry an expiry date? “There is no known limit or there are no studies available on how long your eggs can be frozen. In countries like the US,  there is no limit on the number of years eggs can be frozen. But in India, we don’t yet have any data or studies to support the same,”  Says Madhavi.

Should you store frozen embryos or frozen eggs?  “While the success rates for freezing eggs and storing embryos are comparable, freezing embryos has a slightly better chance of survival. Approximately 90 percent of frozen eggs survive, while approximately 98-99 percent of embryos survive depending on the quality,” says Dr Bharati.

The fertility evaluation process for women involves an antral follicle count (AFC) on sonography and an anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) blood test. These investigations help to determine the eggs in the ovaries.

The process is invasive. Explains Dr Surabhi, “To begin the egg freezing procedure, your doctor will usually prescribe hormone injections for 8-10 days to activate your ovaries and create numerous fertile eggs. Extraction follows, with trans-vaginal ultrasound aspiration used by your specialist to remove the eggs. Multiple embryos can be extracted in about 15 to 20 minutes. After the embryos have been collected, the doctor will freeze them using one of two methods: slow freezing or vitrification.”

The best egg wins. Honestly, there is always depletion during the process. Says Madhavi, “Egg, or embryo loss, during the thawing process, can happen. Since eggs are a bit more fragile than embryos, you may lose more eggs than you anticipated on thawing. If you have a partner now with whom you want to have children in the future, choosing to freeze your embryos instead of eggs might be the better solution. It typically takes about 15 or more frozen eggs to eventually result in a successful embryo due to attrition as eggs are thawed, fertilised, and transferred.”

Explains Dr Surabhi, “Freezing embryos cuts down on the number of times you may need to extract ova. When you store your embryos, you know ahead of time how many eggs were healthy (and hence effectively fertilised) and how many were unviable.”

You may experience discomfort as the sedation wears off, minor soreness, tummy cramps or spotting. Says Madhavi, “The egg freezing process is expensive and usually spans six weeks or more. You may require more than one cycle, and experience side effects – physical as well as emotional, like PMS symptoms. These include headaches, mood swings, insomnia, hot or cold flashes, breast tenderness, bloating, or mild fluid retention.”

Do the diet

Thinking of preserving your eggs? “Skip chocolate, ice cream, potato crisps, biscuits. Bad lipids raise oxidative stress, which can have an impact on egg development,” advises Dr Surabhi.

Madhavi recommends nutrition considerations with a diet rich in Omega 3. “Increase dietary intake of fatty fish, consume thrice a week. Take supplements if necessary. Tuck in antioxidants through vegetables, legumes and fruits, ensure iron take, Vitamin D check and folic acid supplements.  Reduce use of plastic containers in drinking and cooking choices.”

While egg freezing might be trending on Twitter, conduct your own research and make your own informed decision. It is your body, to begin with.

In it for the eggs

The proportion of surviving deliveries per egg retrieval for women under the age of 35 is 54.5 percent

The proportion of live deliveries per egg retrieval for women aged 35 to 37 is 41.1 percent

The proportion of live deliveries per egg retrieval for women aged 38 to 40 is 26.7 percent