FREEZING YOUR EGGS
The decision as to the best time to have a baby is a very personal one. More and more women are choosing to delay childbearing for many reasons: to complete their education, early career goals, travel or not having met the right partner. Certain cancer treatments, like chemotherapy or radiation can temporarily or permanently affect your eggs and cause infertility or sterility. Unfortunately, age can affect your chance of getting pregnant. From ages 30 to 40, there is a slow but steady decline in the probability of getting pregnant. After age 40, the pregnancy rate decreases rapidly and there is an increased risk of complications, like miscarriages. In addition, there are certain medical conditions that may affect your ability to have children, like endometriosis or a family history of premature menopause. Recent advances in egg freezing (vitrification) offer a choice to protect and preserve future fertility. As part of your decisions, you may elect to freeze your eggs.
EGG FREEZING TIMETABLE:
1. Initial physician consultation and ovarian reserve testing: After this is completed, the entire process takes 3 – 6 weeks with most of the visits in the last 2 weeks.
2. Birth control pills (BCPs): May be initiated to help follicles grow at the same rate and increase the yield of eggs. If cancer treatment cannot be delayed, patients can start the ovarian stimulation without BCPs and the entire process will take 2-3 weeks.
3. Ovarian stimulation: After you stop the BCPs, you will come for blood work and an ultrasound to start daily injectable medications. These medications are the hormones that your body normally produces to stimulate egg development but at higher doses. The goal is to get a larger number of eggs. Once you start the stimulation, you will come for 5 – 9 appointments for blood work and ultrasound which allows us to adjust medication doses and optimize the number of mature eggs.
4. Egg retrieval: Egg retrieval is done through the vagina under ultrasound guidance and intravenous sedation. The retrieval takes approximately 30 minutes and is done during the morning hours. The fluid containing the eggs is given to the laboratory team to locate and evaluate which eggs are mature for later freezing. Most patients leave the recovery room one hour after the retrieval. The patient is expected to remain at home the rest of the day. A responsible adult will need to stay at our center during your procedure and drive you home after the procedue. It is not safe to drive after anesthesia. He or she will be at our center for a total of 2 – 3 hours.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Patient Refund Program
Why would a woman freeze her eggs?
Recent advances in egg freezing (vitrification) offer a choice to protect and preserve future fertility. As part of your decisions, you may elect to freeze your eggs.
Can I do anything to improve my chances?
Healthy diets with reduced intake of red meat, more fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in antioxidants, (dark berries, broccoli, citrus fruits, etc.) may help egg quality. Smoking should be stopped at least one month prior to starting the stimulation. Caffeine should be kept to one cup of coffee or two caffeinated sodas. Alcohol should be limited to 0 – 1 drinks per day. If you are obese, weight loss helps. Prenatal vitamins should be taken.
Are there any risks?
Very rare complications include infection, bleeding and ovarian hyperstimulation. This will be discussed in detail with you at the time of your initial consultation.
Is there an age limit?
We do not recommend egg freezing over the age of 40.
How many eggs should I store?
The more eggs you have frozen, the better the chances of establishing a successful pregnancy. The older your age at the time of freezing, the more eggs you will need to statistically establish a pregnancy. We recommend freezing at least 15 mature eggs.
How long can the eggs be stored?
In theory, the eggs can be stored indefinitely. Currently, there are no studies assessing the longevity of frozen eggs. Successful pregnancies have been reported with frozen embryos that have been stored for as long as 14 years.
What happens when I decide to get pregnant?
When you decide to get pregnant, your womb will be tested. If you have a male partner, a semen analysis will be performed. If you do not have a male partner, you can use a sperm donor. Estrogen pills will be given to you to help the lining of your womb develop. Once the lining of the womb is developed, the eggs will be thawed and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) will be done with your partner’s sperm or donor sperm. Usually one of the embryos that develop will be transferred and additional embryos can be frozen.
How much does it cost to freeze my eggs?
We offer discount global fee programs, as well as patient refund programs. The recommended number of eggs to freeze rises with age. For a woman 37 years old or younger, we recommend freezing at least 15 eggs. For women 38 and older, we recommend at least 20 eggs. Although this can be achieved with one cycle, most of the time we recommend that you plan on doing two egg freezing cycles. For additional cost information, feel free to click on the above programs or call our Benefits Department at 410-296-6400.