Elective or “social” egg freezing is a medical treatment that can help women to preserve their future fertility. Women are born with all their eggs and ovaries age more rapidly than other organs or tissues. As a result, fertility declines through a woman’s lifetime and it declines at an increasing rate after the age of 35. Some women will consider freezing their eggs if they expect a delay in starting a family due to personal or health reasons. We hope this will provide future options if a spontaneous conception is not possible.
Eggs harvested from a woman’s ovaries are cryopreserved (frozen)in liquid nitrogen and stored for later use. A frozen egg can be thawed in the future and combined with sperm in the lab to create an embryo(s). The embryo is then transferred to a woman’s uterus to help her conceive.
Your doctor can help you understand how egg freezing works, the potential risks and whether this method of fertility preservation is right for you based on your needs and reproductive history.
Who is a candidate for egg freezing?
In general, any healthy woman, with some remaining egg reserve and who is not yet ready to have a baby, can consider egg freezing. Ideally, we suggest egg freezing for women ages 25 to 35. As an initial step in the egg freezing process, you’ll have a fertility assessment to gather information about your ovarian reserve and your overall health. Consultation with one of our physicians will help you to review how effective egg freezing might be for you.
You might also consider egg freezing for medical reasons such as the following;
- Medical conditions that require medications that can be harmful to your eggs such as chemotherapy
- A family history of premature menopause
- Blood test that confirms a low ovarian reserve (AMH testing)
- Surgery to remove 1 or both ovaries
- Severe Endometriosis
Preserve Your Options
You may not be ready for babies right now because of your relationship, health, career, finances, or any other personal reason but you know you want kids later. Perhaps you are unsure if you want kids later and you want to keep all your options open. Freezing your eggs when they are younger, healthier and more likely to result in a baby can provide you with option in the future when the time is right to create your family.
The Egg Freezing Timeline
When you are ready to move ahead with the egg freezing procedure, your physician will prescribe you injectable medications that you will take twice per day for approximately 10 days. These medications start on the second day of your period. We will monitor you here in Kelowna with blood work and ultrasounds and when your eggs are ready you will head to Olive Fertility in Vancouver for your egg retrieval.
Eggs are retrieved by inserting an ultrasound probe into the vagina to visualize the follicles, and passing a thin needle through the upper vaginal wall to gently suction out the eggs. You will be given oral and IV pain medication, as well as local anesthesia. Most patients experience some cramping and pressure sensations. Typically, the procedure takes 10-15 minutes per ovary.
Most patients complain of fullness and bloating during their IVF cycle as well as after egg retrieval. These symptoms are often fully resolved by your next period 10 to 12 days after the egg retrieval. In general, the average egg freezing cycle from beginning to end of retrieval is 14 days. Many of our patients continue working during their IVF cycles, however, we do require you to be at our clinic for blood draws and ultrasounds first thing in the morning for about 15 minutes. You can anticipate 3 to 4 clinic visits during your injections. You will be in Vancouver for approximately 48 hours.
How Much Does Egg Freezing Cost?
Please discuss current fees with the finance department at Kelowna Regional Fertility Centre. As times are changing, many companies are adding benefits that include funding for their employees for fertility preservation and other fertility treatments.
All fees incurred are also tax deductible and receipts can be submitted to your accountant.