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What to Expect During the Egg Freezing Process

by Dr. Daniel Rychlik, Oma Fertility Santa Barbara
 • 5 min read
What to Expect During the Egg Freezing Process

The egg freezing process allows women to preserve healthy, younger eggs to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy later in life. It gives flexibility to plan your family on your own timeline, rather than feeling rushed because of age. Wondering how to freeze your eggs? It's a simple process that is minimally invasive and takes just a few weeks from start to finish. 

Am I a Good Candidate for Egg Freezing?

Ideally, an egg freezing candidate should be 38 years old or less, and have relatively normal hormone levels. Here are some scenarios where it makes sense to consider freezing your eggs.

  • Women who want to preserve their fertility: Many women are opting to have children later in life; freezing eggs can help make this process easier when you're ready.

  • FTM transgender patients: Before undergoing testosterone treatment, freezing eggs can leave the option of using a gestational carrier with their own egg later on.

  • Women about to undergo chemotherapy: Chemotherapy and radiation can harm a woman's egg supply – this risk appears to be even more significant for women who are older . Freezing eggs beforehand can improve fertility odds after treatment is over.

  • Women with severe endometriosis: Getting endometriosis treatment can hurt healthy ovarian tissues, despite having overall positive health outcomes. 

  • Women with a family history of early menopause: Freezing eggs can help you avoid feeling a time constraint if your body and family goals aren't on the same timeline. 

The Egg Freezing Process

Preparation 

Before you begin the egg freezing process, you'll meet with your fertility specialist to make sure it's a good fit for your situation. Your specialist can administer an anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) blood test, which correlates to your egg count and can determine the likelihood of successfully retrieving viable eggs. 

An ultrasound is also usually conducted in order to check the health of your ovaries. It's also standard to be screened for HIV and hepatitis B and C before moving forward. Finally, you'll discuss the egg freezing process timeline and cost so you know exactly what to expect every step of the way. Once you decide you're ready to move forward, your fertility specialist will order medications so you can get started.

Ovarian stimulation

After meeting with your fertility specialist and determining that you're ready for egg freezing, it's time to prep your cycle to stimulate egg production. This includes hormonal treatments, either with a pill or injectable medicine. If your fertility specialist prescribes injections, you'll learn how it works before you head home to get started. This stage of the egg freezing process timeline lasts between 9 and 12 days. You'll add a combination of hormones that boost your ovarian stimulation, with the goal of producing multiple eggs during a single cycle, instead of the usual one egg per month that occurs naturally.  Your AMH level predicts how many eggs you will produce during the stimulation cycle. 

Monitoring

The monitoring portion of the egg freezing procedure happens simultaneously during the ovarian stimulation portion. You'll visit your fertility clinic about every other day to check on the egg development process. These are typically short visits, often in the morning, so they don't interrupt your daily routine too much. And at Oma, we use state-of-the-art 3D ultrasound machines to get a holistic look of your ovarian follicles (which hold immature eggs) that is faster and more accurate compared to other technology. 

During this period, your doctor may also adjust the dosage of your hormone pills or injections. Once the ultrasound reveals that your follicles have reached a mature size and estrogen levels are high enough, you'll administer one final hormone shot to help your eggs reach full maturation prior to the egg retrieval  process. 

Egg retrieval

When you arrive on egg retrieval day, the first step is to have an IV placed. Through this, you’ll receive sedation medication and anesthesia. You'll be asleep throughout the entire process.

Your doctor then uses an ultrasound to guide a vaginal probe that reaches the ovarian follicles. The attached needle goes into the follicles and extracts the fluid inside by aspirating it through a tube. Once extracted, an embryologist separates the eggs from the fluid. 

From start to finish, the egg retrieval process should take no more than 15 minutes. When you wake up, you may feel some tenderness in your pelvic region and you may experience some vaginal spotting. You'll rest in a recovery room and be on your way home after another 30 minutes. In total, the entire egg retrieval process should take less than an hour.

Egg freezing

So what happens to your eggs once they're retrieved? They are quickly frozen using liquid nitrogen in a process called vitrification. This fast process drops the temperature to 196 degrees below freezing (in Celsius degrees) and improves egg survival rates by removing water and eliminating the chance of ice crystals forming along the edges of the eggs. The process keeps the cells intact and avoids inflicting any trauma that could reduce their viability. The eggs are stored in a secure cryo  preservation facility until you're ready to use them in the future. 

Post-retrieval experience

What can you expect after the egg retrieval process? You may experience bloating, cramping, spotting, and constipation, but usually no more than what would occur during a challenging menstrual cycle. Most women are able to return to work the following day. You can use over-the-counter pain medications and heating pads to alleviate these symptoms. Additionally, you should only expect to experience these issues for the 24-48 hours following the egg retrieval. If you have any severe symptoms, like heavy bleeding or lightheadedness, you should call your fertility clinic right away. 

How Many Eggs Should I Expect?

Age is one of the most influential factors in the quality of eggs and number of eggs that are likely to be retrieved and successfully frozen. Here is the average number of mature oocytes retrieved by age, based on a recent study.

  • 36 years old: 14 eggs

  • 37-39 years old: 9-10 eggs

  • 40-42 years old: 9 eggs

  • 43 years or older: 7 eggs

Obviously, there are a number of factors that can impact the number of eggs retrieved, but this is a good starting point when considering freezing your eggs.

Egg Freezing Success Rates for Pregnancy

According to a study conducted in 2015, the survival rate of eggs after both vitrification (flash freezing) and thawing is 90% to 97%. The fertilization rate ranges from 71% to 79% and the implantation rate is anywhere from 17% to 41%.

Another recent study conducted by New York University revealed that 70% of women under the age of 38 who froze and thawed at least 20 eggs, successfully had a baby. It appears to indicate a higher success rate for eggs that have been frozen and thawed compared to using fresh eggs or embryos.

How Much Does Egg Freezing Cost?

The egg freezing process should be a transparent one. Oma Fertility charges $5,500-$6,000*. This includes all of the following:

  • Bloodwork, tests, ultrasounds, appointments, and monitoring

  • Retrieval

  • Freezing process

  • 1 year of retrieved egg storage

After the first year, Oma charges an annual fee of $500 to continue storing the eggs. The $5,500-$6,000 fee does not include the cost of injectable medications, but those are often covered by insurance. There is also a separate fee for anesthesia.

*Pricing varies by location and final treatment plan determined by your fertility specialist. The prices listed do not apply to “Powered By Oma Fertility” locations.

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2023 12:00 AM