As of 2018, more than 20,000 American women had had their eggs frozen. That figure has significantly increased and will continue to do so as egg freezing continues to become the go-to process for delayed parenthood. 

But why would you consider freezing your eggs? More importantly, does this procedure work?

Well, egg freezing has proven beneficial for women who wish to preserve their fertility. This procedure is especially preferred by:

Women who have cancer that requires pelvic radiation or chemotherapy which could affect fertility    
Ladies with chromosomal abnormalities that could cause premature ovarian failure
Women about to undergo surgery that could damage the ovaries
Women with ovarian diseases that could damage the ovaries
Ladies with genetic mutations that require ovary removal
Women with personal, social, religious, or moral reasons to postpone childbearing

As egg freezing is still a relatively new procedure, the best way to prepare for it is by first doing enough research about it. No doubt, there's a lot of information regarding egg harvesting and freezing, some of which is not true.

In this article, we tell you all you need to know about this life-altering procedure. Read on to learn more. 

What Is Egg Freezing?

Egg freezing refers to a procedure that meant to preserve a woman’s egg. Also known as oocyte cryopreservation, this procedure entails the extraction, freezing, and storage of a woman’s eggs to preserve their reproductive potential. 

What Happens During The Freezing Eggs Procedure?

For eggs to be harvested for freezing, the patient first undergoes a hormone-injection process. This process is similar to what happens in in vitro fertilization

Upon egg harvesting, they’re frozen for the desired period before being thawed and fertilized. The fertilized eggs (embryos) can then be transferred to the uterus. 

The entire freezing cycle takes roughly three weeks. During the first one to two weeks, the patient takes birth control pills to turn off natural hormones temporarily. This is followed by about ten days of hormone injections meant for stimulation of ovaries and ripening of multiple eggs. 

After adequate maturing of the eggs, they’re retrieved under ultrasound guidance and immediately frozen.

Here’s What You Need to Know about Egg Freezing

As we mentioned earlier, much has been said and written about egg freezing. All this information can be overwhelming. The following six facts, however, should help you get your mind organized. 

1. If You're Considering Freezing Your Eggs, Don't Wait

While there’s no ideal age when to freeze eggs, fertility experts agree that younger years are best. Egg freezing works best for ladies in their 20s and 30s. That’s when women have the highest fertility potential.

After you’ve reached 38, the procedure isn’t recommended as the quality of your eggs has generally deteriorated. 

2. Egg Freezing Is Generally Safe

As of 2020, egg freezing has proven quite successful, with hundreds of thousands of babies being born from the procedure worldwide. 

The rate of birth defects is no different in egg freezing when compared to the rest of the population. Similarly, embryos derived from frozen eggs do not experience an increased rate of chromosomal defects than embryos from fresh eggs. 

What about pregnancy complications? Well, egg freezing does not increase their rate, either.

3. Eggs Can Remain Frozen For a Long Time

One of the best things with oocyte cryopreservation is that you can freeze your eggs for many years. Many facilities permit eggs to remain frozen for up to 10 years. Of course, you can get an extension to that period if you can prove that you’ve become infertile prematurely. 

4. Sometimes, You Have To Do the Procedure Severally

When you do egg freezing, you want to give yourself the highest chances of future pregnancy. Experts recommend freezing at least 15 eggs. But the number of eggs harvested during one stimulation cycle may be less depending on:

The age of the patient
The patient’s remaining ovarian reserve
How well the patient responds to stimulation

Some women can produce all 15 eggs after a single round of stimulation. Others need multiple rounds of treatment and harvesting. 

5. The Facility You Choose Matters

With the increasing popularity of egg freezing, many facilities offering the procedure have popped up across the country. Unfortunately, all clinics are not equal. Their performances vary significantly.

Your eggs are highly fragile and sensitive to the harvesting and freezing procedure. Thus, there’s a real art to the process. You need a clinic that has data to prove their success rates, such as Inovi Fertility & Genetics.

So how do you locate the right fertility provider for you? Here is a list of questions to ask:

How long have you provided egg freezing treatment?
How many eggs have you successfully thawed?
What’s the percentage of thawed eggs that survived?
How many thawed eggs were successfully fertilized?
What’s the pregnancy rate per egg thaw?

6. Egg Freezing Can Be an Intense Procedure

As you can probably imagine, successful egg freezing involves a lot of things. The physician first draws your blood to assess your ovarian reserve and screen it for any infectious diseases. In some cases, the facility may do an ultrasound to evaluate your overall ovarian function.

You’ll also need to take synthetic hormones to stimulate the ovaries to grow follicles. Additionally, you’ll need medicine to prevent ovulation before egg harvesting. Next comes an injection of hormones to help your eggs mature for retrieval.

The egg retrieval procedure takes place in a physician’s office. It involves transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. Typically, you’re anesthetized before the doctor starts to harvest the eggs one by one using a long, hollow needle.

Once eggs are successfully retrieved, they undergo vitrification for cooling.

Egg Freezing Doesn’t Need To Be a Confusing Concept

Making decisions that concern your fertility can understandably be overwhelming. Before taking any concrete steps, it's best to research what's involved in a fertility procedure, so you know you're making an informed decision. For instance, it’s best to know as much about oocyte cryopreservation as possible when considering freezing your eggs.

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