Freezing Eggs, Fertility, And Outcomes
Even if a woman hasn’t considered freezing eggs as part of a fertility plan, the likelihood of being aware of the procedure is high. While many people treat egg freezing as a magic bullet to ward off any fertility risks, the reality can be quite different. More importantly, using frozen eggs isn’t a guarantee that a woman will successfully become pregnant at a later date. But before undergoing the procedure, think about the following considerations.
1. Age and egg retrieval
Many women assume that retrieving eggs is a safe way to ward off infertility complications. But more goes into success rates than simply freezing eggs. The age at which a woman chooses to freeze eggs can directly impact fertility later on in life. Experts recommend women consider freezing eggs at a younger age. Ideally, a woman’s 20s or early 30s is the best time range because the ovarian reserve, or the total number of eggs in the ovaries, is higher.
2. The process can be emotional
For maximum results, retrieving eggs for freezing requires more than simply waiting for a woman to ovulate normally and release one egg. A woman must undergo multiple tests to screen for ovarian health and potential diseases. After testing, a woman must also take hormones to encourage the release of multiple eggs. The entire process can be emotionally draining and feel invasive, even though testing and egg retrieval are outpatient procedures.
3. Side effects are possible
Considering that a woman must undergo hormone supplements to prepare for egg retrieval, many women experience side effects. The most common include mood swings from hormones. But because of the egg retrieval process, cramping and discomfort from the procedure are also likely. While not every woman may experience symptoms, experts usually recommend taking some time off after the procedure.
4. A baby isn’t guaranteed
The hardest reality for many women to accept is that freezing eggs won’t guarantee a successful pregnancy later. The chance of a single frozen egg leading to a live birth ranges between 2-12%. While that figure can be counterbalanced by retrieving multiple eggs, the success rate is still low. In one study, a 30-year-old woman who had 2-6 eggs thawed only had a 9-24% chance of any individual egg leading to live birth. Remember that other factors such as male fertility and the woman’s age at the point of future fertility treatments will also impact results.
5. Egg retrieval isn’t cheap
Beyond the initial costs associated with freezing eggs, women also need to be mindful of the additional fees that can accumulate over time. Most egg retrieval procedures cost around $10,000. But the drugs required both for the preparation period can be anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000. And also note that women will need to manage annual cold storage fees which are usually between $500 to $1,000. Then once a woman is ready to try for a child, IVF rounds can cost between $3,500 to $5,000. Also, consider that depending on a woman’s age when egg retrieval begins, multiple collection cycles may be needed.
Making the choice
Ultimately, a woman will need to decide, even after all of the potential drawbacks or unknowns, if freezing eggs is a viable option to delay fertility temporarily. While the procedure can be cost-prohibitive for some people, other women will appreciate the option to have more time to pursue a career or find the perfect person to start a family. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.