Freezing your eggs or oocyte cryopreservation is the harvesting of eggs from a woman’s ovaries and freezing them for future use.
The process begins just as that of in-vitro fertilization, where the patient undergoes a few weeks of hormone injections. These injections are self-administered. The injections stimulate the ovaries to ripen multiple eggs.
The eggs are then removed under moderate intravenous sedation.
After retrieval, the eggs are analyzed for damage before being stored in liquid nitrogen. Some say that eggs can be stored for up to 10 years; others say 5 years is more realistic.
When you decide you are ready to have a baby, the eggs are thawed and then fertilized through a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection. If the egg is determined to be fertilized, it is transferred as an embryo into the uterus. Sounds simple right? Not so fast; keep the following in mind if you are considering freezing your eggs
You need to conduct loads of research
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)’s has an online directory with a full list of approved clinics, just enter your zip code. Finding a clinic and choosing the best one are two different matters.
The performance of these clinics varies considerably. You need to know which questions to ask. It’s not just about finding a center, It’s about finding a center that does egg freezing and thaws the eggs and has data of its success rates. Technically, anyone can say that they can freeze eggs, but the question is: Are you freezing them correctly?
Eggs are very fragile and sensitive so the freezing process needs to be done just right. Ask specific questions such as how many egg thaws have been done and what is the success rate of those thaws.
Freezing your eggs costs lots of money
Insurance coverage with regard to freezing your eggs is spotty at best. Some providers may help to foot your bill but expenses may run up to $12,500 for every cycle, up to $5000 for medication and up to $800 for storing the eggs yearly.
- Multiple rounds may be necessary to retrieve the recommended 10 to 30 eggs
Many centers offer a fertility evaluation that involves an ultrasound and diagnostic testing.
You aren’t guaranteed a successful pregnancy
Egg freezing is relatively new. The majority of people who’ve had their eggs frozen haven’t had them thawed yet and there is no mechanism that exists to track the success rates. Your chances realistically are 40 to 50%.
“Believe me, I think it’s a game-changing technology, and I’m super-enthusiastic about it, particularly for women who know they want children and want an insurance policy for the future, But to say that egg thawing is a perfectly well-established technology… it’s a little hard to say that. I think we need to be honest and realistic with people about exactly how much we know.” says Eric Widra, M.D., chair of SART’s practice committee and medical director of Shady Grove Fertility.
Because of this lack of evidence on its success, some medical experts do not endorse egg freezing.
The medical risks associated with egg freezing are rare but the pregnancy related risks in older women are much higher than younger women.
If you want to do it, do it now
The younger you are when you freeze your eggs, the better your odds of getting pregnant when you unfreeze them. Egg freezing is not recommended for women over 38.
I want to hear from you
First, have you considered freezing your eggs?
Second, do you worry about when and if you can have children?
First published at parents.com