What is Egg Freezing?
Egg freezing, or mature oocyte cryopreservation if you’re looking to expand your medical vocabulary, is a method in which eggs are harvested from the ovaries and frozen unfertilized and stored for later use. The practice seems more common now as technology has progressed, and as conversations about young women establishing themselves socially and professionally have become more mainstream. But what does egg freezing entail? And who is it for? Would it be a good fit for you? It could be. Let’s look at some basic information about egg freezing to see if we can find out the answers to some of these questions.
Why Should You Consider Freezing Your Eggs?
Conversations about young women freezing their eggs so they can start careers and establish themselves without worrying about having to have kids seem more common these days. And it’s true, some women want to focus on something other than staring a family during her prime childbearing years. Then she can come back a few years later and have high-quality eggs to use to have a baby.
Other common reasons women freeze their eggs include:
- Preserving eggs if you’re facing possibly harmful treatments for serious illness, such as future cancer treatments
- Genetic conditions that can cause ovarian failure
- Medical conditions that might require future surgical intervention resulting in the removal of ovaries
- Planning for a future surrogate situation if you won’t be able to carry a child because of the above reasons
- Because of personal preference or religion, some people may be uncomfortable with freezing fertilized eggs, or embryos, but are ok with freezing components like sperm and eggs for later use
At What Age Should You Freeze Your Eggs?
While each woman is different, egg freezing is more successful for women in their 20s and early 30s. The quality of the eggs will be better if the woman is younger when they are retrieved and preserved. Egg freezing is not usually recommended for women older than 38 years old.
However, it is important to keep in mind that even if you freeze your eggs as a younger woman, the chance that one single frozen egg will result in a baby in the future is around 2-12%. That statistic is a bit off-putting, but keep in mind that women who go through the egg freezing process generally have more than one egg frozen so they have more than one chance at a baby. Studies show that the more eggs retrieved per procedure, the better the chances of birth later on. Typically, up to 15 eggs can be retrieved per cycle.
What is Involved in the Egg Freezing Process?
The treatment before egg retrieval for egg freezing is similar to the first part of the IVF process. The patient is treated with medication, usually hormones, to stimulate follicle growth and multiple egg production before a clinical retrieval procedure. This preparation stage usually lasts 10-12 days and the patient would be monitored with ultrasounds and blood tests.
After this phase, the woman goes in for an outpatient procedure to have the eggs harvested, usually under light anesthesia. After removal, they are taken to the lab where a trained embryologist examines the eggs, exposed to a cryoprotectant solution to help survive freezing, and then they are frozen indefinitely. At Laurel Fertility Care, we plunge the eggs into liquid nitrogen for incredibly fast freezing. This eliminates crystal formation and improves survival and pregnancy rates.
Request a Free Consultation
Laurel Fertility Care is here to help you make the right choices to fit your reproductive plans. And if freezing your eggs sounds like it should be a part of those plans, we have locations in San Francisco, Modesto, and Fresno. We’ve been working with parents and families of all kinds since 2005 in over 15 countries and helped them bring over 1,000 babies into the world. We’d love to help you too!
If you’re not quite ready to make an appointment, but want to start taking the next steps, you can request a free telephone consultation with one of Laurel Fertility Care’s leading fertility specialists.