Recent advances in oocyte cryopreservation (“egg freezing”) techniques have greatly improved the ability for frozen eggs to survive thawing, and result in a healthy pregnancy. This is great news for women who are considering egg cryopreservation as a way to secure their future fertility, so they do not feel biological pressure to have children before a certain age. As many women are choosing to start their families later in life, they can be proactive by booking a ‘fertility check-up’, and exploring the option of egg freezing.

What is Egg Freezing?

In order to retrieve eggs for freezing, a patient undergoes the same hormone-injection process as women do with in-vitro fertilization. The only difference is that once the eggs are retrieved, the eggs are frozen (or “banked”) for future use. They can then be “warmed”, fertilized and transferred at a later date.

It takes approximately 4 – 6 weeks to complete the egg freezing cycle. This includes 10 – 14 days of hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries and develop multiple, mature eggs. As with IVF, the patient would visit the Clinic regularly throughout this period for early morning ultrasounds and blood work. Once it has been determined that the eggs have adequately matured, a retrieval procedure is scheduled in order to have them removed with a needle that is placed through the vagina using ultrasound guidance. This procedure is done under conscious sedation and is not generally painful. The eggs are then immediately frozen using a technique called cryopreservation.

When the patient is ready to have a child (this can be several, even many years later), the eggs are first thawed, then fertilized by injecting a single sperm into its cytoplasm, before being transferred into the uterus as an embryo.

Who Should Consider Egg Freezing?

This technique was originally used by women facing an anticipated decline in their fertility as a result of radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

The reality is that a woman’s ovaries (and the eggs within them) age more rapidly than is expected by her true, chronological age. Egg quantity and quality both decrease significantly in a woman’s 30th-40th decade. Additionally, as fertility declines dramatically over the age of 35, women may consider banking their eggs if they expect a delay in starting a family. Knowing that eggs are banked allows some hope and additional conception options when the time comes to attempt a pregnancy.

In order to make fully informed decisions regarding whether this is an option for you, please book a consultation with one of our fertility specialists. They will review the risks, expected outcomes (including pregnancy rates) and alternatives to egg freezing that you should be aware of and ultimately assist you with making an informed choice about your options.

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