Overview – Egg freezing is a procedure that can save your ability to have a baby in the future. After harvesting from your ovaries, fertility specialists will keep your eggs frozen and unfertilized. Later, your doctors can thaw the eggs, combine them with sperm in a lab, and implant to back into your uterus (IVF).
Why It’s Done
If you are not ready for pregnancy but want to try at a more proper time, egg freezing may be a good option for you. Since the eggs must be unfertilized before freezing, there is no need for sperm. Also, you will need fertility drugs to ovulate so that you can give multiple eggs for freezing.
Egg freezing may help you in certain conditions or circumstances:
- Diseases such as lupus or sickle cell anemia can affect your fertility. However, you can freeze your eggs while getting treatment.
- Treatments that involve radiation or chemotherapy can harm your fertility. If you need cancer treatment, it would be wise to freeze your eggs.
- If you have ethical or religious concerns about IVF treatment, you may want to freeze your eggs instead of embryos.
- You may want to protect your eggs at a younger age by egg freezing. They will be ready to use when you are ready.
You can use your eggs to have a baby with sperm from a partner or a donor. Also, you can give your embryos to the uterus of another person so she can carry the pregnancy.
How You Prepare
You can freeze your eggs in our clinics with the expertise of our fertility specialists. Fertility specialists are also known as reproductive endocrinologists.
When deciding where to freeze your eggs, you should check pregnancy and live birth rates. However, a clinic’s success rate can depend on many factors, such as the ages of patients.
Before egg freezing, you will need to have some tests.
Ovarian reserve testing
Determines the quality and quantity of your eggs. On the third day of your menstrual cycle, they check the follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol in your blood. Test results will help predict your ovaries’ response to fertility drugs.
Also, you may have another blood test or ultrasound of your ovaries to get a more complete picture of your ovarian function.
Infectious disease screening
Naturally, doctors will screen you for certain infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C.
What You Can Expect
There are several steps to egg freezing – ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, and freezing.
Synthetic hormones will help stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This process may involve medications for ovarian stimulation and premature ovulation.
Your doctor will monitor the stimulation process closely. There will be blood tests to measure your response to stimulation medications. Typically, your estrogen levels should rise as follicles develop. Also, the progesterone levels should stay low until after ovulation.
Additionally, the following visits will include vaginal ultrasound tests. Your doctor monitors the development of fluid-filled sacs via vaginal ultrasound. Because these sacs are where your eggs will mature.
Your eggs will be ready to retrieve after 10 to 14 days.
Doctors can retrieve the eggs in their offices or a regular clinic. While you are under sedation, your doctor will identify follicles with an ultrasound probe. Then, he/she will guide a needle through the vagina and into a follicle. There will be a suction device attached to the needle to remove the eggs.
Doctors can remove multiple eggs with this procedure. Also, studies show that more eggs mean a better chance of birth.
You may have cramping after the treatment. Since your ovaries will remain large, feelings of fullness and pressure might go on for weeks.
Shortly after harvesting your eggs, your doctor will cool them to sub-zero temperatures. Eggs will stay frozen and unfertilized until you are ready to have a baby. The most common procedure for egg freezing is vitrification.
After the Procedure
After a week from retrieval, you can go on with your normal activities. However, be sure to avoid unprotected sex to prevent unintended pregnancy.
You must contact your doctor if you have:
- Fever higher than 38.6 C (101,5 F)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Gain weight of more than a kilo (2 pounds) in 24 hours
- Difficulty urinating
- Severe vaginal bleeding
When the time comes, your doctor will thaw the eggs and fertilize them with sperm in the lab. Then, eggs will be back into your uterus through the implantation procedure.
The chances of pregnancy after implantation varies between 30 to 60 percent. However, the most important factor is your age at the time of freezing. Younger you are, the higher the likelihood that you will have a healthy birth in the future.