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Updated by on Dec 29, 2016
Headline for 9 Facts that Demistify Egg Freezing From a Person Who Went Through It
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9 Facts that Demistify Egg Freezing From a Person Who Went Through It

After going through my first cycle of egg freezing, I want to help demistify the process and share relevant information about the experience.


IVF Success Rates Using Fresh Eggs are Just As High When Using Frozen Eggs

Clinical outcomes researched by ASRM showed good evidence that fertilization and pregnancy rates of frozen oocytes are similar to IVF with fresh oocytes. In one of the largest randomly controlled trials (RCT) with 600 recipients, the outcome showed that there were no significant differences in fertilization, implantation and pregnancy rates. Same with this study published by Oxford University. Additionally, a Shady Grove fertility study from October 2015 showed that outcomes from autologous (using ones own eggs) vitrified eggs were as good as those obtained by women of the same age who used ‘fresh’ (never vitrified/thawed) eggs.


Vitrification (flash freezing) is the Most Advanced Method of Egg Freezing

Vitrification (flash freezing) vs. the traditional slow freezing method produces a higher chance of a live birth rate with frozen eggs. According to ASRM, live birth rates per egg retrieved are between 4-14% with vitrification vs 2-12% using the older slow freezing method. Dr. Kort from Extend Fertility said there's about a 10% chance per egg (with additional factors involved).

In addition, the vitrification process is less complicated than slow freezing and prevents the possibility of cells forming damaging ice crystals. Since the eggs are made up primarily of water, they are extremely delicate and prone to forming ice crystals with the slow freezing process. It's also less expensive and time-consuming to use vitrification methods.


Freezing Eggs Does Not Guarantee A Live Birth

While IVF success rates have increased using frozen eggs, there's still a drop-off throughout the cycle and live births aren't guaranteed. About 90-97%+ eggs survive thawing from vitrified eggs, according to ASRM. "Not all eggs survive thawing. Of those that survive, not all fertilize. Of those that fertilize, not all develop into healthy 2-3 day embryos that can be transferred. Not all embryos implant. And not all the resultant pregnancies are viable" according to studies researched by Expecting Science.

That being said, women shouldn't go into the process assuming that this is a fail-safe option later in life. The more eggs you are able to harvest (at younger ages), the better chance you have at a future IVF cycle using your frozen eggs.


The Actual Process of Egg Freezing is Not As Terrifying As It Seems

The complete process and actual procedure is surprisingly not as invasive and terrifying as it sounds. Most of the stress and anxiety comes from the days leading up to the start of the cycle. When you first decide to take egg freezing seriously, you go through a myriad of thoughts that range from current life situation and relationship status to the anxiety of the technical two week process. If you've started to do your research and talk to various clinics, you're probably experiencing some information overload as well.

Once you decide to pull the trigger, it only gets easier. You've committed to doing this, have somewhat gotten over the steep costs and are going through with it like it or not. At this point, it actually becomes empowering because you have decided to take control of your reproductive choices and your future!

As far as the whole cycle goes, it's only 10-12 days (max two weeks with recovery in most cases). You're going in for blood work and ultrasounds about every other day on average where they closely monitor your estrogen levels (to inform what hormone levels they will induce) and your follicles, which are producing the eggs. Once your follicles get to a respectable size (the dominant follicle at about 18 mm or higher), then you're close or ready for retrieval. The clinical visits are only about 15-30 minutes and your in and out before the work day even begins. Once you get through the shots the first couple of nights it's all pretty easy. You're doing at home shots (1-3 needles typically) per night for about 7-8 nights and a "trigger shot" 36 hours before the retrieval to induce ovulation (you get over the needles pretty quickly). The actual retrieval is about 20 min. and they give you the Michael Jackson drug to sail you through that - you're completely out and feel nothing. The typical recovery is about a week where you're experiencing some cramping.

After all is said and done, you have popped your potential kids in the freezer and go on about your awesome life!


The Shots You Give Yourself are Subcutaneous Injections

What about those needles and self-administering the medication? Relax, it's not what you think. You don't need to find a vein as the shots are all subcutaneous injections (under the skin). This is done in your belly about 1 inch on either side of your belly button or in your upper thigh. Yeah, it's definitely overwhelming on day 1, but again you're a pro by day 3. First off you have an initial logistics meeting with your nurse advisor before you even begin and learn how to mix the meds and shoot yourself up. Then you watch these videos a million times before and during the shots. Trust me, it's not as scary as it looks!


You Won't Be as Emotional As You Think

In my experience, the emotional effects of PMS are much worse. Sure, you're shooting yourself up with a significant amount of hormones, but it's nothing you haven't experienced before.


Egg Freezing is Not Cheap, but It's Getting Less Expensive

The whole process can get costly and most workplaces and insurance companies don't cover "elective egg freezing." Luckily, there are private clinics popping up like Extend Fertility that offer more cost effective rates compared to other more well known medical centers. If you have some cash to spend, it's a solid investment. Your grandparents or parents might be willing to contribute as well for the chance of precious grandchildren! The out of pocket costs include the initial consultation, actual cycle and freezing (blood work, ultrasounds, visits to the doctor, etc.), medication and storage. These are all separate costs that typically range from $10,000-$20,000 depending on who you cycle with. More and more companies are starting to pay for elective egg freezing like Facebook and Google along with offering more fertility benefits.


You Should Aim to Freeze At Least 10 Eggs

Million dollar question. It really depends on how many kids you want and your current situation at the time of use. One study showed that when greater than 8 vitrified eggs are available, chances of success grow from 22-46%. USC fertility recommends that at least 10 eggs be stored for each pregnancy attempt. interviewed Dr. Eve Feinberg who said that women in their mid 30s who harvest 15 eggs have a safe bet at one live birth. Obviously these studies vary, but is sounds like you want to aim between 10-20 vitrified eggs to have a solid chance of at least one live birth.


The Best Age To Freeze Your Eggs Is Between 28-34

The younger you are, the greater number of eggs you have and the the better quality they are. You are born with as many eggs as you're ever going to have (ovarian reserve). As you age, those numbers start to drop with rapid declines starting between age 37-38. The earlier you freeze your eggs, the greater quality they will be when they are thawed and used. If you freeze too early, you risk never needing to use those eggs at all (because you end up settling down and conceiving naturally at a young age). If you freeze too late (closer to 40), you have a much lower ch of success using your 40 year old eggs vs your 30 year old eggs.