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What is "Egg-Freezing"?!

"Why Freeze My Eggs?"

All women are born with a set number of eggs, which grow older just like our bodies do. As we get older the eggs become more and more fragile, which unfortunately leads to increased difficulty getting pregnant. Freezing your eggs allows you to have eggs that are literally "frozen in time" at the age when you underwent the process. We like to think about it as women taking their future into their own hands, and not relying on a "biological clock" to dictate when to start having children. 

 

What is the Egg Freezing Process Like?

First, Dr. Macer may perform an assessment of the ovarian reserve to estimate the potential yield of oocytes (eggs) prior to doing your egg freezing cycle. The assessment would include blood tests and a pelvic ultrasound. This will also help to determine the necessary dose of medications.

Ovarian stimulation is carried out using injectable hormonal medications (the same hormones your body produced naturally). The goal is to grow all the eggs that your ovaries have recruited that month, rather than the single egg that you would normally grow and ovulate. Egg freezing does not “waste eggs”, but rather freezes all the eggs that would have normally died off that month.

This process starts on the second day of your period, and the injections are done every night for about 9-10 days. You will be seen in the office for ultrasounds and blood tests approximately 4 times during this process, to monitor your egg growth and adjust your medication dose. Your team will be available 24/7 should you have any questions during this process. Sometimes, Dr. Macer will put you on birth control pills for 1-2 weeks before starting injections in order to make sure all your eggs stay small and grow at the same rate once stimulation starts.

Following the stimulation, the oocytes and the surrounding fluid in the ovarian follicles are aspirated vaginally while you are under sedation. This is the only day you will need to be off work, as the sedation can make you tired after the retrieval. 

The maturity of the eggs is assessed under the microscope and then they are kept frozen for as long as you need to them for!

 

How Can You Use The Eggs In The Future?

When your ready to use your frozen eggs to achieve a pregnancy, these cryopreserved eggs are placed in warming solution and assessed. Those eggs that survived the freezing/thawing process are fertilized with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected directly into the egg (either your partners or a donors). The fertilized eggs will grow in culture until the embryo(s) are ready to be transferred into the uterus, typically 5 days after fertilization.

 

What are the Chances of a Successful Pregnancy Using Frozen Eggs?

Clinical pregnancy rates have been estimated between 4-15% per oocyte. But since egg freezing is relatively new, more data will be needed to have a better idea on these success rates. In general, the two most important factors in determining the probability of a live birth are the woman’s age at the time of egg freezing and the number of available eggs.

 

Are There Effects on the Offspring?

Available data comparing births resulting from previously frozen oocytes with those from fresh oocytes have not shown an increased risk of congenital anomalies.

 

What are the Risks Associated with the Egg-Freezing Procedure?

Typically, this process is quick and very safe. However, the few risks are similar to those associated with ovarian stimulation for IVF, which include small risks of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (enlargement of the ovaries and fluid accumulation in the pelvis and abdomen), infection, and bleeding related to the egg retrieval procedure. These are all extremely rare, though are still possible.

 

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