What is Egg Freezing and Why is It Used?
Egg freezing is a process where a woman’s eggs are extracted, frozen, and stored for future use. The eggs can be thawed later and used to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Egg freezing is often seen as a way to preserve fertility for women who are not yet ready to have children but may want to do so in the future. It can also be used to protect against age-related fertility decline or as a treatment for certain medical conditions that could impact fertility.
How is Egg Freezing Done?
The first step is to evaluate your ovarian reserve or egg quality to determine the best ovarian stimulation protocol and to estimate the potential yield of eggs. The testing would include a blood anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) level and a pelvic ultrasound to assess your antral follicle count (AFC).
Egg freezing involves stimulating the ovaries with injectable hormones in the same manner as patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). Following the stimulation, the patient undergoes a minor vaginal surgical procedure under IV sedation. This procedure is also known as an egg retrieval.
The eggs are assessed for maturity under the microscope and those that are mature are cryopreserved or frozen. Vitrification is a newer method of fertility preservation used at the Fertility Institute of San Diego that involves flash-freezing eggs in liquid nitrogen. This has the advantage of being less likely to damage eggs.
How Effective is Egg Freezing?
Egg freezing is not 100% effective, but recent technological advances have made it a more viable option for women who wish to preserve their fertility. If you’re considering egg freezing, it’s important to speak with a fertility specialist to understand your risks and chances of success.
The clinical pregnancy rate per frozen egg has been estimated to be 4.5-12%. Egg freezing under the age of 35 has been shown to give women the greatest chance of success.
How Long Can Eggs Be Kept Frozen Without Affecting Outcomes?
There is no time limit to how long you store your eggs. Cryopreserved eggs that have been stored for decades have still resulted in successful pregnancies. In the United States, eggs can be frozen indefinitely.
What Are the Risks of Egg Freezing?
Unfortunately, egg freezing is not without risks. These include the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and the cost of the procedure. Additionally, there is no guarantee that frozen eggs will be viable or result in a pregnancy.
Despite the risks, egg freezing can be a helpful fertility option for some women. If you are considering egg freezing, be sure to speak with a fertility specialist to discuss the risks and benefits.
Schedule a free fertility consultation with a member of the award-winning team at the Fertility Institute of San Diego. With over 25 years in the IVF industry, patients can be reassured that they are in good hands.