Unlike sperm which constantly regenerates, people with eggs are born with a set number, and the quantity and quality decrease over time. That’s why we’re typically most fertile when we’re younger. But what if you’re not ready to have kids yet?
Egg freezing (a.k.a. oocyte cryopreservation) is a method where eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and frozen for use later on. Think of it like setting yourself up as your own egg donor in the future, should you need it due to age, a medical condition or as a result of treatment.
Though it’s not a 100-percent guarantee that you’ll be able to conceive later on, it’s a way of improving your odds. Want to learn more about this increasingly popular treatment? Read on for a primer on the egg-freezing process, cost and success rates.
Why do women and people with eggs freeze their eggs?
There’s no proven medical intervention to delay ovarian aging. Though not everyone’s eggs are affected at the same rate, all people with eggs become less fertile over time. There’s no guarantee that frozen eggs will lead to a baby, but it’s an option to optimize your chances if you’re hoping to get pregnant with your own eggs down the road.
What’s the best age to freeze eggs?
Your 30s is the most ideal time for egg freezing. If you’re under 30, most clinics will recommend waiting because you may not end up needing your frozen eggs. Those over 40 typically have low success rates, so it may not be recommended as a result. If you’re in your 30s and know you’d like to have a baby but aren’t ready yet, it’s an optimal time for egg freezing. It’s also an option for those with certain medical conditions or those who are about to undergo treatment that can impact fertility.
What supplements should I take before egg freezing?
The right nutrients can help make sure your eggs are in tip-top shape by giving those cells fuel (eggs need tons of energy to get their job done), defending against oxidative stress and more. Start taking a supplement about three months before your retrieval so that there's enough time for all key nutrients to reach optimal levels. Get set with a prenatal vitamin loaded with scientifically backed ingredients like NAC, CoQ10 and Trans-Resveratrol to support egg quality. You can find all of these in bioavailable forms—plus more go-tos like Folic Acid, Selenium and DHA—in The Power Prenatal for Females.
What’s involved in the egg-freezing process?
The process is very similar to IVF. There will be initial consultation and testing (bloodwork and ultrasound) to determine your ovarian reserve (egg count). Your doc will then make a stimulation protocol using meds to help you yield more eggs (your doc should provide an estimate of how many to expect based on your ovarian reserve).
After taking the meds for about 10 to 14 days, you’ll have your egg retrieval. It’s a short same-day procedure under conscious sedation. The eggs are then frozen until you need them—at which point, they’ll be thawed and fertilized with sperm (donor or partner) to create embryos, which can then be transferred to your uterus or a carrier’s. If you never need the eggs, the lab can discard them or they can be donated to research or others in need.
How much does it cost to freeze your eggs?
Prices vary greatly depending on your insurance and where you live, but without coverage, you can expect to pay about $200 for the initial workup, $3,000 to $4,000 for meds, $6,000 to $10,000 for the retrieval and freezing, and $250 to $750 per year for storage. Later, you’ll need an IVF cycle to fertilize the eggs and transfer the embryos.
What are the egg-freezing success rates?
Did you know there’s no widely established egg-scoring system? Unlike with embryos, there’s no way for the embryologist to tell if eggs are of good, average or poor quality. (But—fun fact!—our chief medical advisor Dr. Dan Nayot developed VIOLET, the first tool that predicts egg quality using artificial intelligence. This can be something you inquire about when researching clinics.)
The lack of centralized system makes success rates hard to determine, but typically, the younger you are and the more eggs that are collected, the more likely the egg freezing will lead to a live birth. There are several online calculators that can help develop an estimate. Though ultimately, you can’t predict how many embryos you’ll end up with when your eggs are mixed with sperm (don’t forget: sperm plays a major role, too!).