Now more than ever, women are choosing to have children later in life. There are a variety of reasons for why women may opt to delay having children – whether that’s to focus on career goals or due to financial reasons or even an unfortunate diagnosis of cancer. Fertility preservation or egg freezing allows women to try to take some control of their biological clocks and start a family when ready. Here we’re exploring how the egg freezing process works and addressing some of the most frequently asked questions.
Egg freezing is a useful procedure for women planning to start a family, but who just aren’t quite ready yet. Cryopreservation of eggs tries to secure the health of the eggs at the time of freezing and store these eggs until a woman is ready to conceive. Fertility preservation may help a woman try to avoid worsening egg quality that can happen with age and that could prevent a successful pregnancy.
While there are a variety of reasons to consider egg freezing, some of the most common include:
Simply put, egg freezing is a fertility treatment that allows a highly skilled physician (reproductive endocrinologist) to collect a woman’s eggs from her ovaries and freeze them for use later.
Before undergoing any treatments, a woman will need to undergo a fertility workup. This includes a transvaginal ultrasound and bloodwork to evaluate how many eggs are available in the ovaries that may respond to medication and be retrieved.
After testing, the collection process begins. This process is similar to an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, but without fertilization. Like with IVF, the goal is to induce follicles in the ovaries to grow. This indicates that the egg inside each growing follicle is maturing and getting ready for the egg retrieval procedure. The goal is to retrieve the maximum number of eggs as safely as possible within a single cycle. Eggs can then be frozen and stored for years, until a woman is ready to start her family. Generally, this whole process involves three steps:
Altogether, the process typically takes just a couple of weeks from hormone treatment through to egg retrieval and freezing.
It’s best to consider freezing your eggs during your prime reproductive years, as the quality and quantity of eggs begins to decline with age. Generally, your 20s and early 30s are an optimal time as you have a higher number of healthier eggs.
This number can vary from person to person and is dependent on factors like age, but generally, it is recommended to freeze between 12-20 eggs. It is best to talk to your doctor regarding your goals for your future.
In most circumstances, eggs can be stored for many years without any concern. You can even use them to conceive all the way up into your early 50s.
When you are ready to achieve pregnancy, your fertility center will check your uterus to make sure it is healthy and can give the best chance of pregnancy, as you prepare for an embryo transfer. You will than take medication to prepare the uterine lining for the embryo. During this time, the eggs would be thawed, injected with sperm to achieve fertilization, and finally an embryo would be placed in the uterus. This is a very simple procedure called an embryo transfer.
Egg freezing is just another way that modern medicine has allowed women to take more control over our bodies and our future! We encourage anyone interested in learning more about egg freezing/fertility preservation to use one of the following options to explore how our partners at South Jersey Fertility Center in New Jersey, and Sincera Reproductive Medicine in Pennsylvania, can answer your questions and make the process as easy as possible!
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