What You Need to Know about Egg Freezing
- Posted on: Apr 20 2023
Egg freezing is a great tool for women who want to store their eggs for a pregnancy in the future. It can be beneficial for a number of different reasons, mainly revolved around preserving the quality of your eggs. For example, women who are going to undergo chemotherapy may choose to freeze their eggs since chemotherapy is known to damage egg quality. Similarly, women who want to have a pregnancy at an older age may choose to freeze their eggs, because egg quality starts to diminish significantly after the age of 32.
Egg freezing isn’t for everyone though; some people may not see much benefit from it, so it’s important to have a discussion with your healthcare provider as to whether or not freezing your eggs is a good fit for you.
When Should I Freeze My Eggs?
It’s considered most valuable to freeze your eggs in your 20s and early 30s, as your eggs start to decline in quality with age. The process of freezing your eggs typically takes two menstrual cycles and frequent doctor appointments, so consider your schedule and availability.
How Are Eggs Retrieved?
The process of retrieving your eggs is one of the more labor-intensive parts of the egg freezing process. To collect the eggs, you will likely have to give yourself daily hormone injections. These injections help stimulate your body to grow multiple eggs. Along with these injections you will likely have to have multiple blood samples and ultrasounds so that the doctors will know when the eggs are ready to be collected.
Once the eggs are ready, you will have an outpatient surgical procedure to collect them. You will be given anesthesia, and your healthcare provider will use an ultrasound to guide a special needle with suction to retrieve the eggs.
How Are Eggs Stored?
After your eggs are collected, they are frozen with liquid nitrogen. This technique of using liquid nitrogen helps freeze your eggs quickly, so that ice crystals don’t form and so the eggs remain good quality. Once the eggs are frozen, they’re then stored in liquid nitrogen tanks in an embryology lab.
Research is still being done to determine exactly how long your eggs can be frozen, but many healthcare providers believe it to be possible to store the eggs indefinitely. This is because healthcare providers have been freezing embryos for IVF patients for decades, and the quality of these embryos has remained intact through freezing and storage, so they suspect that freezing just the egg will show similar results.
Is It Safe to Freeze Your Eggs?
Research has shown that there are no increased risks to your child if you freeze your eggs; specifically, evidence has shown that there have not been increases in genetic or birth defects.
- “Egg Freezing” Fertility and Reproductive Health, UCLA Healt.
- Macmillan, Carrie. “Is Egg Freezing Right for You?” Yale Medicine, Yale Medicine. 29 May, 2019.
- “Freezing Eggs: Preserving Fertility for the Future” Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine.