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15 Things About Freezing Eggs: How, When, And How Much

When you look at history, we have come a long way in a lot of matters. We treat animals better, we treat humans better and we have a million different ways to start a family. Reproductive issues are always changing, and it is hard to imagine a time when it was just two people trying to make a baby and hoping that it worked out. If a couple failed to have children, that was just the way it was going to be for them.

Now, if a couple is having a hard time conceiving, there are a handful of specialists they can see to try and help them start a family. They can go and get ultrasounds done, they can speak to a specialist and they can even undergo some pretty invasive medical procedures. There are two very important procedures when it comes to trying to start a family, and they have helped thousands of couples.

It goes so much further than that. There are now things we can do to parts of our own body to ‘save for later.’ A woman can have her eggs removed and frozen for use at a later time. It gives her absolute control and freedom over when she wants to have children. It is a way to stop this biological clock that everyone loves to warn aging women about.

While it is something that is done semi-regularly, it still seems very foreign to a lot of people. It still seems like some sort of science experiment that has a lot of people scratching their heads. We found and go through each one a woman needs to know when it comes to having her eggs frozen. All information provided is coming right from a center that specializes in many things; including freezing eggs and embryos. Their website will be linked below for more information.

15 Who Should Do It?

The first question we must ask is who should have this done? What type of woman should go ahead with having her eggs frozen? The honest answer is that everyone can have this done, it can be done for any woman for any reason. There are a few circumstances where freezing your eggs can be very beneficial. The first is for those women who want to focus on career or schooling. They want to build something, and they are worried that if they delay too long then they will wake up one day and be too old to have children.

Another possible reason could be if the woman is going through chemotherapy for cancer. Certain drugs that are used to treat cancer can essentially kill a woman’s egg reserve. This means that if this woman goes into remission or beats cancer, and she wants to start a family, she may find her eggs are no longer viable. By freezing her eggs before any treatment happens, it will ensure that she can still have the family she dreams of.

14 When Should They Do it?

Is there an opportune time to freeze your eggs? Yes. There is. Just like the rest of your body, your eggs can age as well. When eggs become too old, they no longer function as they should which can lead to problems with reproduction. The best time to get your eggs frozen would be considered the same time you would be in your prime reproducing period. This means that a woman should freeze her eggs in her 20s or early 30s in order to have the best quality.

Unlike a man, a woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have in her lifetime. They do not reproduce or grow on their own. Pretty amazing when you think about it. As time goes on, these eggs start to diminish, either by not being used and being released with the menstrual cycle, or simply by being too old. You want to catch them in their prime time in order to have success further on.

13 How Does It Work Exactly?

So here is the million-dollar question, how does it work? It is not as easy as just popping it in the freezer once extracted. Science has shown us that sperm and embryos (egg + sperm) are relatively simple to freeze, but eggs are a little different. A woman’s egg is the largest cell in the human body, and like our bodies it is made up of mostly water. When it is frozen, ice crystals can form due to this water which have the potential to destroy the cell.

This has led researchers to realize that they must dehydrate the egg before freezing. They must take out all the water to ensure that the egg is not destroyed. They replace the water with “anti-freeze” in order to prevent any ice crystals from forming. They are frozen either using a slow-freeze method or a flash-freezing method.

12 What Medical Procedures Are Required?

It is quite the process to actually freeze the eggs, because before they throw them in the freezer they must get them out of the woman. In order to retrieve eggs, a woman would go through a lot of the same steps that are involved in IVF. A woman will have to go through a process of hormone-injections to ensure that there is follicle and egg growth.

The whole process takes about 3 weeks to complete. The first 1-2 weeks involve the woman taking birth control pills to turn off the body’s natural hormones. If there is urgency to the retrieval, this step can often be skipped. The next 9-10 days are hormone injection days to stimulate the ovaries and mature multiple eggs. Once the eggs are ripe and ready to go, a needle is inserted, guided by an ultrasound, and the eggs are extracted.

11 “Will The Hormones Make Me Crazy?”

Since a woman needs to go through some hormone therapy before having her eggs retrieved, it is common for her to wonder if this will make her mood any different. We all know the negative side effects that come with an influx or decrease in hormones, whether it be from a previous pregnancy or just your menstrual cycle, and it is important to know.

Dr. Noyes has stated that a woman will notice a change, but nothing too extreme or different from her normal menstrual cycle. Moodiness and bloating are two of the main changes a woman can expect when she is undergoing hormone therapy to stimulate egg growth and maturity. The bloating is because the hormones make the ovaries swell up a little bit because they must create the space to fit all the multiple egg follicles. Dr. Noyes has a lot of great information that can be found in an article in the link below.

10 How Long Can They Be Frozen For?

Egg freezing is almost a game of timing. A good thing to know is how long eggs can be frozen for so that it can be timed when the extraction is done. There have been multiple studies done to try and determine just how long an egg can be frozen for. Eggs are typically frozen at a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius. Based on research that has been done, it shows that eggs can really be frozen for any amount of time necessary, and it does not seem to damage the eggs.

Eggs are not usually stored for longer than a woman wants to wait to get pregnant, and the longest one this fertility clinic had gone with a successful frozen egg was 10 years. It would seem to be common sense that the shorter your eggs are frozen, the higher your chance is of having a later successful pregnancy, but research is showing that this is not always true.

9 Is There A Good Number To Store?

Since we already know that a woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have in her lifetime, it begs the question of how many is a good number of eggs a woman to store if she wants to achieve pregnancy at some point. Some women do get their eggs removed in an attempt to donate them to other women who have issues with their own eggs, but the majority of women get their eggs frozen to ensure a pregnancy at a later date.

When a woman is freezing her eggs to make sure that she can get pregnant at a later date, it is important that it is done properly. A lot of women want to know how many eggs she would need to have frozen to have the best possible chance of conceiving in the future. Based on a study done by this fertility clinic, they suggest that a woman freeze a minimum of 10 eggs. If 10 eggs are frozen, 7 are expected to survive the thaw and 5-6 are expected to fertilize and become embryos.

8 How Well Does It Work?

One thing a woman wants to know if she is going to be freezing her eggs for future pregnancies is how well does this work? Is it worth the cost, pain and time? No one would want to go through all of this with only a slim chance of it actually ending in a healthy and beautiful baby. The source for this article, USC Fertility, has done this process for more than 150 women. What they have found is that 15 of 21 (or 65%) have delivered babies.

That may not seem like really great odds, but that does not take into account the number of women who were successful in getting pregnant but miscarried or suffered late-term pregnancy loss. This number is only the amount who have delivered live and healthy babies. When that is taken into consideration, the number is not that different than women who conceive with live eggs, there is unfortunately always a chance that a woman will lose her pregnancy.

7 What If I Am A Mature Mother?

Caucasian mature woman holding her baby

We all know that a woman’s prime fertile time is early 20s to early 30s. Once a woman hits the 35-year mark, her pregnancy would be considered ‘geriatric’. While a lot of woman still go on to have healthy and happy babies when they are older, there is more risk of miscarriage or complications with the pregnancy. Since most women freeze their eggs to conceive at a later date, it is important to know where you stand if you are an older woman who is planning on using her frozen eggs.

There is some very good news for all you older moms out there. The age of the woman only factors in when she is freezing her eggs. It has nothing to do with the age the woman is when she has them used to conceive. So, as long as the eggs are retrieved and frozen when a woman is in her prime fertile years, the eggs will still be preserved and very healthy.

6 Is It Safe?

When it comes to any medical procedure one of the first questions you should always ask is if it is safe. In the case of egg freezing, we must ask if it is safe for the woman and the future baby. According to USC Fertility, 5,000 babies have been born from frozen eggs to date. The largest study done was on 900 babies from frozen eggs, and it showed that there was not any increase in birth defects when compared to babies born any other way.

More studies have shown in increase in any complications of genetic syndromes from babies that were born from a frozen egg. There are also very limited, if any, risk to the woman who undergoes the procedure to retrieve her eggs and then from having them implanted. This is very promising news and should comfort any woman who is thinking about going through this method.

5 Let’s Talk Money! How Much Does It Cost?

There are very few things in this world that are free, and medical procedures are not one of them. Without insurance, a lot of Americans are paying for medical services. Even in places such as Canada, where there is universal health care, women would have to pay because it is seen as elective and not medically needed. This means that there is a cost attached to getting your eggs retrieved and frozen. Don’t forget about all that hormone medication a woman would need as well.

The procedure is very similar to that of an IVF procedure for a woman who is trying to conceive a child, so the cost is in the same ball park. The prices will all be slightly different depending on which clinic you use, but USC Fertility states that in general it costs about $10, 000 to go through an egg freezing cycle. There is also a yearly fee that a woman would have to pay to have her eggs stored. Most places will offer payment plans to try and help ease the financial burden a little bit.

4 What Are The Cons For Egg Freezing?

When making a decision a lot of people find that going over the pros and cons helps them decide if they are making the right choice. We have already gone through many of the pros to going through this procedure but let’s talk about some of the cons. Huffington Post released a very thorough article on egg freezing and includes a lot of information. The link to the article can be found at the bottom of this article.

This article featured a lot of the negatives that come with having your eggs frozen. One of the biggest hurdles to having this done is that there will be a lot of work on the woman’s part. On the month leading up to the retrieval, a woman will have to undergo a lot of ultrasounds and blood work. Then there is the hassle of taking the medication that will stimulate egg growth and slow natural hormones. It also states that if you are afraid of needles, it may be very hard for you to get through.

3 Frozen Embryos Is An Option (Maybe A Better One!)

Another thing that Huffington Post states that is quite interesting is that it may be better to freeze embryos instead of eggs. A frozen egg is just a single cell, when it comes to getting pregnant, it is still a guessing game. The eggs are inserted and a woman and male do their thing in the hopes that the egg will be fertilized and implant into the uterine wall.

Embryos are eggs that are already fertilized. A doctor collects an egg and a sperm and fertilizes the eggs outside of the womb. Then these eggs are inserted into the woman’s uterus, and it may have a slightly better chance at ending in pregnancy. Of course, for this to work, a woman needs to either be with the man she will want to have children with one day or use a sperm donor to fertilize her eggs.

2 Fun Facts

So, it is time to talk about some fun and interesting statistics. We have stated that there are women of all different shapes and ages with various reasons as to why they may choose to have their eggs frozen. However, most women who choose to have eggs frozen are single women. Dr. Nicole Noyes is the director of fertility preservation at New York University School of Medicine. She has overseen more than 200 cycles of women freezing their eggs, so she has some credentials when it comes to stating these facts.

She states that about three-quarters of the women who freeze their eggs do so because they do not have a partner. There are a few reasons for that: because they are just not in a long-term relationship at the time, or they could very well be in a relationship, but not one that they see conducive with having children. Of all the women who froze their eggs between 2005 – 2011, more than 80% did not have a partner at the time.

1 Details About Who Is Doing It!

Dr. Noyes is very invested in her work with fertility and women who wish to freeze their eggs, and there are some drastic changes regarding which type of women want to get this done. When the whole topic and procedure of egg freezing became available, it was mostly only done by women for medical reasons. That means that the majority where doing it because they had a legitimate health reason and needed to preserve their eggs.

More and more women are now doing the procedure because they are choosing to focus on their career and education, while making sure they can still have children one day. We touched on this earlier in the article, but it really speaks to the culture of women in today’s world. How they are standing up for the rights to their own bodies and deciding when they want to become a mother. They are also putting their education and career first, which is a rising trend.

Sources:

Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-angeline-beltsos/10-realities-of-freezing-_b_5656344.html

USC Fertility: http://uscfertility.org/egg-freezing-faqs/

PBS.org https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/freeze-eggs

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