Three years after Sara and her husband got married, they found themselves to be extremely busy and fully caught-up in their respective careers. They were not ready to start a family yet, so Sara decided to opt for egg freezing and secure her motherhood for future.
The quality of a woman’s eggs deteriorates as she ages and it is one of the major reasons for not being able to conceive in later life. In couples that pursue artificial reproductive medicine, the poor quality of eggs is also one of the main reasons for failure of IVF.
Thousands of women are now opting to store their good quality eggs earlier in life, so they do not have to worry about declining fertility later.
Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is the process of extracting, freezing, and storing a woman’s eggs (oocytes) in order to preserve their reproductive potential for a later time.
The proverbial biological clock is driving women to IVF clinics in hopes of preserving their fertility, and perhaps buying some peace of mind.
More and more women are exploring the option of egg freezing and fertility experts around the world as well as organization such as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, approve of it.
Should I consider egg freezing?
Egg freezing should be considered if you can identify with any of the following:
- You want or need to delay childbearing to pursue educational, professional or personal goals
If you overly busy with your career or have some personal goals to achieve before you decide to start a family, you may consider egg freezing at an early reproductive stage. This applies to women in their late 20s and early to mid-30s. That way you could go about fulfilling your professional or personal desires without having to constantly worry about your reproductive ability.
- You were diagnosed with cancer
Cancer therapy is known to render many people infertile as the harsh drugs and radiation treatments tend to attack the reductive cells in our bodies. Semen freezing for men and oocyte cryopreservation for women is often recommended as method of preserving fertility before chemo or radiotherapy.
- You have a family history of fertility problems
If you have a family history of early menopause, premature ovarian failure, endometriosis, or some other fertility problems, egg freezing at a younger age may be advised so as to preserve your ability to have a baby later in life.
- You are averse to freezing of embryos
Some cultures raise moral and ethical objections to freezing of the extra embryos in an IVF cycle, so they just have to be discarded. If that is your case, maybe you can ask the doctor to use only 3-4 eggs for the IVF procedure and freeze the rest of them. If your IVF fails, you do not have to undergo injections or the egg retrieval procedure again.
- You haven’t found ‘the one’
In case you feel age is passing you by, as you continue to search for that perfect life partner, freezing of your eggs could help ease your anxiety.
When should I freeze my eggs?
The best time to freeze your eggs is in your late 20s or early 30s—when you are in the prime of your reproductive capacity.
At this age the best quality and quantity of eggs can be retrieved.
The number and quality of eggs that may be retrieved depends upon a woman’s individual fertility potential and hormone levels, but if you want to freeze your eggs, you must do it before the fertility starts to decline, which typically happens around 35-37 years in most women.
Dr. Haris Hamzah, Malaysia’s first and most experienced fertility specialist, explains below:
What is the procedure of egg freezing?
Oocyte cryopreservation is an extremely skill-sensitive and sophisticated procedure, which must be performed by a qualified doctor at a clinic that has a very well-equipped lab.
The steps in egg freezing procedure are as below:
|STEP 1 – Ovarian reserve estimation||The doctor will first assess your ovarian reserve to estimate the potential yield of eggs. For this, some blood tests and a pelvic ultrasound will be performed.|
|STEP 2 – Stimulation||Ovarian stimulation in then performed with about 8-12 days of hormone injections, to pump your ovaries to mature more eggs instead of just the one it does every month.|
|STEP 3 – Egg retrieval||Under sedation, eggs will be carefully aspirated with the help of an extremely fine apparatus, inserted vaginally. You will not feel anything during the procedure as you remain sedated.|
|STEP 4 – Assessment||The eggs are checked for how mature they are, under a microscope and the good ones are selected for freezing.|
|STEP 5 – Vitrification||Eggs are very carefully, but quickly cooled with liquid nitrogen, which fixes them in the same state for use any time later.|
This freezing and thawing (de-freezing) of eggs is an extremely sophisticated procedure and if not performed prudently, a lot of your precious eggs can be damaged during the process.
Most of our partner clinics are equipped to handle egg freezing efficiently. Please get in touch to learn more.
How long the eggs can remain frozen?
In most countries, there is no higher limit to the number of years that your eggs can be kept frozen, but some countries have set a limit on that time. For example, in Denmark, you will only be allowed to keep your eggs frozen for 5 years.
Back in 2019, this Dubai woman had a baby at the age of 24, after freezing her ovaries at the age of nine, when she had to undergo cancer therapy.
Many doctors I have spoken to, have confirmed that long-term freezing does not cause any damage or compromise the quality of eggs to conceive.
Most clinics charge annually for egg storage, so if you store them for a longer duration, you will have to pay higher.
What is the cost of egg freezing?
Egg freezing costs vary by location and clinic. We offer affordable egg freezing facility in the below locations:
The cost also depends upon the amount of stimulation drugs required, which is generally lower in younger women and increases with age. It is also dependent upon your hormones and fertility levels.
Another factor is the clinic’s laboratory and technological capability—one that is very important and should not be compromised on.
Dr. Masashige Kuwayama, a leading fertility expert from Japan, developed the CRYOTEC® method of vitrification, which if followed correctly can bring upto 100 percent freeze-thaw survival rate. This is what you want—a high freeze-thaw survival means you’ll have a greater number of usable eggs, whenever you decide to fertilize them.
He is the ultimate authority on the subject. Some of Infertility Aide partner clinics have been directly trained by Dr. Kiwayama and depending upon the location most convenient for you, we’ll connect you with the best doctor.
A lot of clinics may entice you with lower costs of egg freezing but before making up your mind, you must ask:
- How many egg-freezing cycles have you done?
- What is the average freeze-thaw survival rate?
- How many live births have you had by doing IVF cycles in frozen eggs?
If you don’t find satisfactory answers, take your precious eggs elsewhere. If this procedure is not done right, you may end up with no eggs at the time when you’re ready to conceive.
To know the specific cost of egg freezing in your situation, get in touch using the form on this page.
Is egg freezing safe?
The risks of egg freezing are mostly associated with ovarian stimulation, which include:
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
The risks are small and rare but you have to be prepared in case.
A study of over 900 babies from frozen eggs found there was no increase in rate of birth defects because of egg freezing.
No increase in chromosomal defects or pregnancy complications was found in embryos with frozen eggs, according to two different studies.
Where can I get my eggs frozen?
With IVF clinics mushrooming all over the world, egg freezing facilities are now available near you. However, you must be careful to bank your eggs only in a reputable facility.
Infertility Aide offers egg freezing facilities with our trusted doctors in:
Success rates of IVF with frozen eggs
As Dr. Haris mentions in the above video the results of IVF using frozen-thawed oocytes are not any different from those using fresh eggs.
Infact, many fertility experts are now inclined more towards the use of frozen embryos in IVF as they believe that a woman’s body is better prepared to receive an embryo once it returns to its natural environment after taking all those hormones for egg collection.
The same applies to egg collection, provided the eggs are handled carefully and not destroyed in the process.
If a you freeze your eggs at 33 to 35 years, you will have over 55 percent chance of conceiving with IVF, even after you cross 40 years. If you freeze your eggs at 38 years, you will have around 35 percent chance of conceiving later in life.
However, your chances of conceiving with IVF using fresh eggs at 42 years are just around five percent.
Those are general statistics but to know your specific chances of conceiving with frozen eggs till a certain age, you might want to do some hormone tests and discuss with the doctor ahead of planning the treatment.
How will the frozen eggs be used for pregnancy?
When you are ready to use your frozen eggs for pregnancy, the embryologist will first thaw (de-freeze) the frozen sample. The eggs are placed in a warming solution and assessed for quality.
The best ones are then fertilized using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which involves injecting a single sperm is directly into each egg to form an embryo.
These fertilized eggs will turn into embryos, which will be cultured for 3-5 days until they are ready to be transferred into your uterus to achieve pregnancy.
Benefits of egg freezing
- Freezing your eggs will allow you to pursue personal and professional goals without having to risk motherhood
- It allows you to marry when you find the right person, instead of rushing into it because of age related infertility
- It provides you peace of mind. Many women have said that after freezing their eggs they felt as if a weight was lifted off even though they were aware they may never use their frozen eggs.
- You can hope to have a baby even if you have a family history of fertility problems
- You can go into cancer treatment without worrying about infertility
The procedure has become so popular that since 2015, tech-giants like Apple and Facebook have started offering egg freezing benefits for their female employees, allowing them to commit to work if they want to.
Usually the age of 28-35 years is when a lot of people are deeply involved in their professional lives, but that age bracket is especially crucial for females because of the biological clock. There is pressure on both ends and egg freezing helps you make an easier choice.
The cost of egg freezing in the US can go upto up to $12,000 per cycle with an additional deposit per year to keep them in frozen storage. So, these big companies offer up to $20,000 for female employees, who want to delay their family plans in favor of advancing their careers.
Women who do not have these Silicon Valley benefits can get low-cost egg freezing at choice destinations, where it costs much less and can be done in complete privacy at some really well-equipped clinics.
For more information on egg freezing and to consult with a qualified expert before proceeding, get in touch via the form this page.
With contributions from Dr. Haris Hamzah, the first IVF doctor in Malaysia and one of the most experienced in the world.
Noyes, N., Porcu, E., & Borini, A. (2009). Over 900 oocyte cryopreservation babies born with no apparent increase in congenital anomalies. Reproductive biomedicine online, 18(6), 769–776. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1472-6483(10)60025-9