The egg freezing process helps a woman preserve her eggs in order to extend her ability to get pregnant later in life.
An increasing trend shows that most American women in their late 20s and 30s are concentrating on advancing their careers and delaying the decision to get pregnant and have children. Because fertility declines with age, many women are considering freezing their eggs as an “insurance policy” to have children when they are ready and not when the biological clock dictates. . This article discusses things you should know before freezing your eggs.
Why Should a Woman Freeze Her Eggs?
Apart from the fact that a woman wants to delay her pregnancy due to personal reasons and lifestyle choices (called Social Egg Freezing), there are many other reasons that can impact a woman’s decision to freeze her eggs. . These include: –
- The woman may be suffering from cancer and has to undergo chemotherapy or lower body radiation therapy as part of her cancer treatment. These life-saving treatments may affect her fertility. Before starting treatment, she should decide if she wants her eggs frozen for fertility preservation.
- A woman has to undergo surgery that has a risk of permanent damage to the ovaries.
- Due to a genetic abnormality, there can be a risk of premature failure of the ovaries.
- The woman has a family history of early menopause.
- The woman is diagnosed with a disease that affects the ovaries and there is a risk of permanent damage to the ovaries.
- The woman has certain genetic mutations (like BRCA mutations) that require surgical removal of the ovaries.
When a woman decides to freeze her eggs to preserve the ability to have children later in life, it is advisable to get it done as early as possible, since the quality of a woman’s eggs declines with age. They are at peak quality between the childbearing age of 16 to 28 years. During the mid-reproductive years (29 to 37), the eggs are still of acceptable quality for freezing. However, the quality of eggs diminishes substantially after 37 years of age.
How Does the Egg Freezing Process Work?
Simply put, in the egg freezing process, also known as mature oocyte cryopreservation, a woman is first given n gonadotropins like FSH to stimulate her ovaries to produce a number of eggs, which are then extracted, frozen, and stored for future use.
But even before the actual procedure begins, you will discuss the procedure with your fertility specialist, and have a financial consultation with our financial team to clearly understand the costs involved and financing options that are available through our loan options. ..
Next, you will undergo fertility pre-cycle tests that determine your ovarian reserve, or the number of eggs that are currently present in your ovaries. You will also be screened for infectious diseases like Hepatitis (B & C) and HIV, in addition to genetic testing in case you have a family history of inherited genetic diseases. Carrier screening is a standard genetic test that determines if you are a carrier of a genetic condition that may affect your child.
Stimulation of Ovaries
Your fertility expert will prescribe you gonadotropins (synthetic hormones) that will stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. In a natural menstrual cycle, only one egg is released. Your physician may also prescribe medication that prevents premature ovulation.
You’ll be monitored for around two weeks through blood tests and ultrasound until the follicles are ready for the retrieval of the mature eggs. Just prior to this, you will be given a medication (like hCG, human chorionic gonadotropin) for the eggs to mature.
Retrieval of Eggs
Transvaginal ultrasound aspiration is used to retrieve eggs from a woman’s ovaries. In this procedure that is performed in the physician’s office or a surgery center, the woman is put under sedation and an ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina in order to identify the follicles. A needle with a suction device on top is then gently inserted into the vagina until it reaches the follicles and the eggs are retrieved.
Freezing of Eggs
Once your eggs are retrieved, they are cooled quickly to sub-zero temperatures. To avoid ice crystals from forming and damaging the fragile eggs, substances called cryoprotectants are added. The eggs are then stored in storage tanks with liquid nitrogen. . Frozen eggs can be stored in liquid nitrogen for an indefinite period of time. This means that there is no legislation in the U.S. that mandates the use of frozen eggs after a certain year. So time is not a factor in deciding when you wish to use your eggs to try to achieve a pregnancy.
After the Procedure
Once your eggs have been retrieved and processed for freezing and preparation for storage, you may go home. It is recommended not to resume full activities a week later. You might feel some side effects like a bit of cramping in your abdomen after the egg retrieval. Because your ovaries were stimulated to produce multiple eggs, they are enlarged and will remain so for at least a week. During this time you will have a feeling of fullness or slight pressure in your abdomen.
From the time you start taking medication until you resume your normal routine, is just around three weeks.
If you decide to freeze your eggs, you can choose to thaw and use them with IVF after trying on your own with a partner and not achieving pregnancy (this is where the insurance policy aspect kicks in) or use a sperm donor if you decide to be a single parent.
Are There Any Risks in the Egg Freezing Process?
While the egg freezing process has advanced through the years and is a safe procedure, there are certain side effects that might occur.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
This is a rare condition that occurs due to the overstimulation of the ovaries from fertility medication. In this case, the ovaries become enlarged and painful after ovulation or the egg retrieval procedure. Other symptoms include pain in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea. The possibility of this developing into a life-threatening condition is very rare.
Complications During Egg Retrieval
Again, although rare, these may happen partly due to human error, in this case, due to the fertility physician. During egg retrieval, as noted earlier, a fine aspirating needle is inserted into the vagina to remove the eggs from the follicles. In rare cases, it may lead to bleeding, damage to the bowel or surrounding blood vessels, and subsequent infection. Fortunately in the experienced hands of our fertility experts, these complications are extremely rare.
How Much Does Egg Freezing Cost?
Egg freezing may cost up to $10,000, depending upon the region and fertility clinic. Most health policies do not provide insurance coverage for egg freezing; although increasingly there are more companies that have carve-outs for egg freezing insurance to cover the costs for their employees. The egg freezing costs include fertility medication, egg retrieval (including anesthesia), pre-cycle tests, and physician fees. Some fertility clinics offer one-year storage with these egg freezing fees. Typically, a year of storage can cost anywhere between $500 – $800.
At Dreams Fertility, we believe that nothing should stop you from taking charge of your reproductive health and preserving your fertility.s. For this reason, we offer zero-percent financing or loans tailored to the specific needs of each of our patients, along with the world-class service our patients have come to expect.
Our custom treatment packages come with clear and transparent pricing. We offer a one-of-a-kind exclusive financing program that includes multiple loan plans, including 0% and low-interest terms exclusively for our patients. We have special, discounted rates for teachers, active military, police officers, and firefighters.
Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have empowered individuals to take control of how and when they plan for their families. The egg freezing process is an advancement in fertility preservation within the domain of ART that has been perfected over the years and has helped countless women preserve their ability to get pregnant when they choose to start their family.
It’s important to remember that freezing high-quality eggs cannot guarantee a successful pregnancy. It is a highly valuable “insurance policy” that you can use if you try to get pregnant on your own, later in life.
To bring children into your lives when natural processes do not help requires a trusted partner on your side. Dreams Fertility endeavors to be such a partner – an empathetic expert and guide who will work closely with you to bring your dreams of starting a family to life.
To start your journey, schedule a consult with a Dreams Fertility physician today.
Dr. Luis Murrain joined Dreams Fertility in 2021, providing specialty services in Fertility and Reproductive Genetics. With a shared vision that everyone deserves to have the family of their dreams, we are dedicated to helping all of our patients. We believe that families come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them are beautiful. We are proud to have a long history of providing services to all, including gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples on their road to parenthood.