"I froze my eggs"

How often women in Georgia resort to cryopreservations and why

Egg freezing, or cryopreservation, is an achievement of modern medicine that allows thousands of women around the world to delay their reproductive age and give birth to a child later.

A woman of reproductive age undergoes a procedure in which her eggs are retrieved, frozen in liquid nitrogen, and placed in a special storage facility called a cryobank. Frozen eggs can be used years later when the woman is no longer of reproductive age. It is quick, painless and completely safe for the unborn child.

Women seek cryopreservation for various reasons - a woman does not have a partner with whom she could have a child, or a career is a priority for her at this stage of life, but years pass and, with age, the body produces fewer eggs. Cryopreservation can also be used in case of serious diseases - for example, young cancer patients often freeze their eggs before undergoing chemotherapy.

This technology is also gaining momentum in Georgia, albeit very slowly so far. The reason for this is the lack of information, the Georgian mentality and the lack of funds.

37 years

I started to worry. I did not want to be a single mother, if I could, I would have given birth to a child directly. Egg freezing has made my life so much easier. Now I am more calm in looking for the right person, I do not close my eyes to things just because "I want a child."

To be honest, I don’t even know if I want a child or not, whether I will have one or not. To me, it's more of a guarantee that you either use or don't. At some point, I am sure that I will have a child if I want to, but let it is there for the peace of mind.more for my own comfort.

Years later, if I want a child, I don't want to regret that I could have done something and didn't.

This is a kind of insurance for me - if I am ready to have a baby, with the help of medicine, I can do it years later.
NIinia 37 years

I did the procedure in Tbilisi. I don't live in Georgia, but I came here last summer. When I had a partner, I was examined in detail, so the clinic had my profile. This greatly simplified the procedures, everything was decided quickly.

In total, 19 follicles were removed from me. Nine eggs of very good quality, one of average quality. I experienced discomfort for 2-3 days, I was advised not to lift weights. The procedure itself is simple, it takes about 10 minutes with anesthesia. I was immediately sent home, and in the evening I talked with the doctor. That day I was at home, the next day, as usual, I returned to some classes. I know that those who had one or two eggs removed went back to work after the procedure.

The only thing that worries me now is what if they didn’t store it well? I think the contract does not spell out some details, including roles and responsibilities.

What is cryopreservation?

Eggs provide female reproductive functions.

Within a month, one egg matures, and if it merges with a sperm, fertilization is possible.

With age, the number of eggs decreases, and with them their quality, i.e., the likelihood of fertilization.

However, with the help of modern technologies, it is possible to freeze, cryopreserve and use the most reproductively developed eggs after 10 years or more. Both in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood are possible. The higher the number of eggs, the higher the chance of fertilization.

Arsen Gvenetadze, gynecologist-reproductologist, head of the clinic. Sabakhtarshivili, explains that with age, the supply and quality of eggs decreases.

According to him, as a rule, in the period from 35 to 38 years, the reduction is slow, at 38 it is faster, and after 40 the probability of natural conception is still there, but it is low.

Therefore, the gynecologist-reproductologist advises to go through the process of egg freezing until the age of 35. Although this does not mean that this cannot be done later or that it will not work.

Gvenetadze explains that before freezing eggs, the expert evaluates whether the body is ready for the procedure. If everything is in order, ovarian stimulation begins. As a rule, it begins on the second day after the end of menstruation and lasts 10-12 days.

The cost of egg freezing in Georgia ranges from 2,000-2,500 dollars. However, this is individual and depends on the state of health, necessary additional examinations, etc.
“Naturally, one follicle and one egg can mature in one cycle. In the case of stimulation, hormonal preparations are administered to the patient in advance, as a result of which more eggs mature”, says Gvenetadze

After that, the mature eggs are “excreted” along with the follicular fluid. This is called aspiration

This procedure, which lasts approximately 10-15 minutes, is not an operation, is performed vaginally, under anesthesia and controlled by ultrasound. The next step is to evaluate and freeze the harvested eggs, which is done by the embryologist
22 years old
В прошлом году у меня подтвердилась злокачественная опухоль в голове, она распространилась на головной и спинной мозг. Поскольку я начала лечение, врач сказал мне, что матка может быть повреждена. В целях профилактики мне посоветовали заморозить яйцеклетки.

Я подумала и решила это сделать. Это было сложнее больше психологически, особенно в моей ситуации. С другой стороны, это очень простая процедура.

Last year, I was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in the head, it spread to the brain and spinal cord. Since I started treatment, the doctor told me that the uterus could be damaged. As a preventive measure, I was advised to freeze the eggs.

I thought about it and decided to do it. It was more difficult psychologically, especially in my situation. On the other hand, it is a very simple procedure.

First you go to a consultation, they check the condition of your egg.

Then you will have to take medicine so that as many eggs as possible mature. It's not very cheap, you need 200-300 lari ($70-100) for medicine every day. Then the cost of the procedure itself is up to 2,000 lari ($700), then the cost of storage is separate, which is inexpensive.

During the removal, you do not feel anything, it is done under anesthesia. I left the clinic by myself after about two hours.

The attitude in the clinic is very good, I am satisfied with the doctors, services, and equipment.

If I said that I want a child today or in two years, it would not be true. I don't think everyone should have kids. But someday I might want to, so I froze them just in case. You never know what will happen in life.

I have heard from many that they are embarrassed to do it. I believe that women should go beyond these limits and do this procedure for themselves, and not for others. This is prevention, protect yourself and the future. It's not shameful.

Teona Odzelashvili

35 years
At the moment, there is no person in my life with whom I could start a family or have a baby. I am also more and more careful in my choice of people, be it friendships or any other type of relationship.

I regularly go to the gynecologist, take various tests, and recently it turned out that it can be difficult for me to conceive naturally. I haven't decided yet if I want a baby or not.

Many people at this age have already made this decision, but I am not leaning towards either side. Therefore, I decided that if I wanted to have a child in the future, whether with a partner or a donor, I would have preserved eggs.

I am in this process now. I have already found a clinic and a doctor, I have done primary tests, some of which are covered by private insurance. I think I will have frozen eggs by autumn at the latest.

I am very satisfied with the service and doctors. We have considered in detail all types of risks. There was no problem with their attitude. The doctor explained to me what this procedure meant, what would happen if I did not use frozen eggs, and that this procedure was not against religion.

The religious part was not a problem for me, but it is probably important to talk about these topics for a lot of people. We went through all types of risks in detail, I am very pleased with the communication with the doctors.

I have already found a clinic and a doctor, I have done primary tests, some of which are covered by private insurance. I think I will have frozen eggs by autumn at the latest.
35 years old
There are no statistics on how many women apply for this procedure in Georgia and whether their number has increased in recent years.

Even experts find it difficult to say for certain. There has been an increase in the number of people going to clinics for this procedure, although it is still low compared to other countries.

“If you ask me how often we are approached about this, I will tell you that it is not a lot yet. We have several patients”, says Arsen Gvenetadze.

One of the reasons for this is the lack of information related to reproductive health and modern technologies, as well as mentality and religion.

The church, which is a very popular institution in Georgia, has repeatedly spoken out against modern reproductive methods.

For example, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, in one of his Christmas messages several years ago, said that the family of a child born as a result of surrogate motherhood cannot be happy, and children born as a result of artificial insemination will also be problematic.


50 years

Я I am a doctor and I knew that the number of eggs decreases sharply with age, especially after 40 years.

I got married at 42. My husband and I knew in advance that we might have problems, although sometimes this is not the case, and there are couples who conceive naturally.

At this age, when pregnancy does not occur naturally within 6 months, a specialist consultation is already underway. We did the same. I've been to different clinics, performed different procedures. At 44, I had a natural pregnancy that ended with a miscarriage.

Then we decided to freeze the embryo. First, tests are needed, then maturation with hormones is done, and before the follicle bursts, aspiration is done.

Within a few minutes of anesthesia under ultrasound guidance, a special needle is inserted and the contents of the follicle are removed, where the egg is likely to be.

Then the spermatozoa of the man are taken and fertilization takes place. Embryos can be stored for years, the main thing is that there are appropriate conditions.

Sometimes egg aspiration does not happen and several procedures are required. The same was in my case. Fertilization occurred in the fifth year after marriage.

According to the National Statistical Service of Georgia, the average age of a mother at birth has increased in Georgia in recent years. In 2011 it was 26 years, in 2021 - 28.5 years.

Now we have three-year-old twins who are absolutely healthy.

It is good that such an opportunity exists, and it needs to be financed. Although this is not a catastrophic amount, but, unfortunately, many cannot afford it. I know a woman who had to sell an apartment, now she has a child, but no apartment.

My priest gave us his blessing for this. They say that this is religiously wrong, but, as the priest told me, God still gives the soul. If the Lord does not want it, then it will not happen either naturally or artificially.

If we receive other benefits from medicine, we do heart transplants, implants, we should accept this as well. This is also a miracle, is this procedure always successful?

During cryopreservation, either only the egg is frozen, or an already fertilized egg-embryo

If the embryo is frozen, the chance of having a baby is higher because the embryo already represents a successful fertilization ready for transfer.

As for the freezing of the egg, it still has to go through several procedures for fertilization - it needs to be thawed and then the process of fusion with the sperm will begin.

Which method to choose depends on the individual patient and the context of his life

If a person has not yet decided whether they wants a child at all, who their partner should be, etc., then they chooses egg freezing

If they already have a partner, or they are sure with whom they wants to have a child, but for various reasons they cannot have a child at this stage, then it is better to freeze the embryo.

"Ты You are a woman and you must have a child"

Anthropologist, Associate Professor of the Ilia University Elene Gavashelishvili conducted a study of women who have the problem of infertility - how they solve this problem in a country where, on the one hand, motherhood is considered the main function of a woman, and on the other hand, such an authoritative organization as the church has a negative attitude to modern reproductive technologies.

“The main force driving them is the social pressure claiming that she should definitely become a mother”, she says.

Gavashelishvili notes that, according to her personal observation, some changes are taking place in society - recently women are trying to make motherhood not their only identity.

However, she emphasizes that she cannot generalize from this observation because it is not based on research, and also points out that there are likely differences between rural and urban areas, as well as between social classes.

According to her, a woman's attempt to play another major role, in addition to the role of a mother, is not easy and is the result of a lot of struggle and hard work:

“For example, in order not to lose their jobs, women return to their jobs very soon after having children. And in the context of the pandemic, when all auxiliary institutions were closed, whether it be a kindergarten or a school, women had a particularly hard time”.

Gavashelishvili shares his observation that there has been an increase in the number of women at the master's and doctoral levels at the university, that is, there has been an increase in the demand for additional education and employment in jobs that will give women independence.

However, according to Elene, despite this, motherhood is still on the agenda.

“In many societies, especially in Georgia, it seems that a woman is perfected by motherhood. Women, including those who are successful in their careers, are judged through motherhood.”

According to her, there is a lot of pressure on a woman to get married and have children.

However, when a woman approaches the age of decline and for some reason remains childless, even the most traditional parents may say: “Why don’t you try some alternative way, because the most important thing is not to remain childless.”

According to the National Statistical Service of Georgia, compared to last year, the number of mothers has decreased to 20 and 20-29 years. However, the number of mothers aged 30-34 and 34-39 has increased.
Reproductive gynecologist Arsen Gvenetadze says that cryopreservation is a kind of planning for the future and, to some extent, getting rid of fears that time is running out and you may never become a mother.

“This is one way to find peace. If a person does not think every day about reducing the number of eggs and having a baby as soon as possible when they have other plans in life.

Life is not only a child and not only childlessness, not only success or failure, it is all of this together. It’s perfectly clear to me that a woman may at some stage not want to have a child and focus on other things.”

Author: Khatia Ghoghoberidze

Editor: Sopho Bukia

Illustration: Diana Petriashvili

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