14 Jun 5 Facts About Egg Freezing
Egg freezing is a viable fertility option for women from all backgrounds and life stories. For some, it is a way to preserve fertility in the wake of a medical diagnosis and/or medical treatment known to compromise fertility. For others, it’s a means of safeguarding your viable eggs when they’re at their most healthy and fertile (before age 40), so you rest easier as you move forward with academic, career, travel and other life plans.
The former scenario is called “elective” or “social” egg freezing, and that’s the type of egg freezing covered in this post. If you are looking for medical-related fertility preservation, contact a fertility specialist to discuss your situation.
Fertility Experts Answer Some of the Most Common Questions About Egg Freezing
The more this topic garners attention in the media, online, and in the workplace, the more we’re being asked questions about egg freezing. So, today we’re sharing answers to 5 of the most common questions we’re asked regularly.
1. Should I freeze my eggs?
You’re probably not surprised to hear our answer to this one: only you have the answer to whether or not egg freezing is the best option for you. What we can offer is that it’s not a decision that should be made on a dime or in response to current trends. Our advice is to schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist so we can help guide you in the direction that makes the most sense.
First and foremost, we recommend having an AMH fertility test and an FSH test performed. While these don’t provide absolutes about fertility potential (that requires further testing), the combination of your personal/family medical history and these tests are good indicators as to the number of eggs you have, and their estimated viability. Pre-conception genetic screening is another useful tool to indicate risks of genetic/chromosomal abnormalities.
We’ll also discuss your life plans, reasons for elective egg freezing, and run through various timelines/scenarios. If you’re 34-years or younger, we may recommend waiting a few more years before deciding to freeze and bank your eggs. Fertility rates for eggs retrieved between 30 and 35 are relatively the same, so you’ll spend less money by banking eggs for fewer years.
2. How old is “too old” to freeze eggs?
One of the reasons age is such an important factor in female fertility is that egg quality diminishes as you age – and more rapidly so from 35-years onward. The best time to retrieve eggs from a healthy woman, with no known infertility factors, is during the early- to mid-30s. Waiting until 36-years or older can negatively impact the chances of IVF success using those eggs, defeating the purpose.
3. How long does it take to retrieve eggs?
Women going through the egg retrieval process undergo an identical process to the first-phase experienced by women using IVF with their own eggs. Thus, it can take about 4 – 6 weeks, on average. First, we use birth control pills to take control of your menstrual cycle in order to sync follicle maturity (ovulation).
Then we’ll use injectable fertility medications to hyperstimulate the ovaries to release an abundance of eggs. When your follicles are mature, we’ll schedule your retrieval appointment. The goal is to retrieve somewhere between 20 and 30 eggs, optimizing the overall ability to successfully fertilize healthy embryos, using IVF cycle(s) when you’re ready.
4. What are the success rates for using frozen eggs for IVF?
Egg freezing technology is relatively new, and so an ample supply of data is only now available enough for us to evaluate and form statistics about IVF success rates using frozen eggs. The most comprehensive study/review performed thus far evaluated nearly 1400 women who froze/banked their eggs, and IVF success rates for those who opted to use them. Just around 83% of eggs thawed after vitrification were viable – and IVF success rates were about 27%, slightly higher than the 23% average for women in the age 35 – 37 bracket. But, again, these types of studies are rare so only time will tell and technology is getting better every day.
5. How much does it cost to freeze and bank eggs?
The good news is that more and more insurance companies and employers are subsidizing or covering the cost of egg freezing and storing. Even so, it can be costly. The cost for the consultation, appointments and egg retrieval process averages around $10,000 to $15,000, or more. After the first year of storage (typically included in the egg retrieval costs), you pay an annual fee to keep eggs frozen. Egg storage costs are another several hundred dollars per year.
It’s true that egg freezing is a viable fertility option for some, and it’s also true that the decision is worthy of serious weighing of the pros/cons and other family building options.
Are you interested in learning more about egg freezing and whether it’s the right option for you? Contact us here at the Fertility Center of Dallas to schedule a consultation.