Are you curious about egg freezing and how it can help you preserve your fertility for the future? You are not alone. More and more people are choosing to freeze their eggs. But what exactly is egg freezing and how does it work?
Egg freezing is an amazing process that allows people to freeze their eggs for future use. Why might you consider egg freezing? Maybe you’re focused on building your career or traveling the world, and you’re not quite ready to start a family yet. Or maybe you’re facing a medical condition or treatment that might impact your fertility and you want to have a backup plan.
The process starts with a visit to a fertility clinic. During the first visit, a fertility specialist will perform a comprehensive evaluation including checking your AMH and AFC to determine if you’re a good candidate for egg freezing. If you are in fact a good candidate, you’ll begin hormone therapy (in the form of daily self-administered injections) to stimulate the production of eggs. This part of the process typically lasts for 7 to 14 days, and you’ll need to return to the clinic often for regular monitoring.
Once the eggs are mature, your doctor will schedule your egg retrieval procedure. This procedure is performed under light anesthesia and typically takes 20 to 30 minutes. Once retrieved, the eggs are examined under a microscope and then the mature eggs are frozen and stored until you’re ready to start a family. When the time comes, the eggs can be thawed, and hopefully fertilized, and transferred to the uterus as embryos.
Egg freezing is a medical procedure, and as with any medical procedure, there are certain risks involved.
Some of the potential risks include discomfort during the egg retrieval process, hormonal imbalances, and a slight increase in the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. It is also possible for the eggs to be damaged during the freezing and thawing process, which can affect their viability – this is why choosing a reputable clinic with a great lab and thaw rate is so important!
Finally, as we’ll discuss further below, there is a risk that egg freezing doesn’t result in a future pregnancy. Put another way, egg freezing is not insurance – every frozen egg will not result in a baby in the future. It is important to acknowledge this risk and have the appropriate conversations with your provider(s) as you consider egg freezing.
Egg freezing involves the use of hormones to stimulate the production of eggs. As a result, some people may experience side effects related to the hormonal changes taking place in their bodies.
Common side effects of egg freezing can include bloating, abdominal pain, and mood swings. Oftentimes, there is light bruising and soreness at the hormone injection sites. You may also experience headaches, nausea, and fatigue. These side effects are typically temporary and resolve on their own within a few days to a couple of weeks after the egg retrieval procedure.
It is also important to remember that everyone’s experience is unique, and the side effects that one person experiences may be different from your own.
The costs of egg freezing typically include the initial consultation, the hormone medications, the egg retrieval procedure, and storing the eggs.
Egg freezing can be an expensive process, and these costs will vary depending on several factors, such as the location of the clinic, the number of cycles required, and the length of storage. Some insurance plans may cover some or all costs associated with egg freezing, but this is not always the case. In general, a single cycle of egg freezing can cost up to $8,000, and the medications can cost an additional $4,000 to $6,000. Storage can cost $500 or more per year.
Success rates can vary depending on various factors – most importantly a woman’s age and the number of eggs frozen. Until recently, there was little good data on the success rates of egg freezing, in part because not enough women had returned to use their frozen eggs.
In July 2022, NYU released a study following 543 women who froze and thawed their eggs over 15 years. The average age of women who froze their eggs was 38.3 years old, and on average they waited four years to thaw and fertilize their eggs. Most importantly, the overall chance of a live birth from the frozen eggs was 39 percent – but, the rate increased to 51 percent for women who froze before they were 38 years old. And, the live birth rate rose to 70 percent if those women who froze before 38 thawed 20 or more eggs. In a nutshell, the importance of freezing early and freezing enough were underscored by this study. A medical professional can provide more personalized information and support regarding the potential success rates of egg freezing for your individual situation.
Ultimately, the decision to freeze your eggs is a personal one and should be made after careful consideration and consultation with a medical professional. Whether you’re looking to delay childbearing for personal or medical reasons, egg freezing can be a valuable option for people looking to preserve their fertility and secure their future.
If you are considering freezing your eggs, have questions about how to choose the best clinic for you, or just want to talk through the process and timeline, feel free to book a complimentary 20 minute call with us! We’ve helped a number of clients navigate the process, choose their clinic, and manage the practical and emotional considerations of this process!