Egg freezing is currently a popular option for women who are not quite ready to become pregnant, whether because of their lifestyle, career, or simply waiting longer to meet the right partner and have a baby. For some women, when they are ready to become pregnant, their ovaries may not have nearly as many high-quality eggs as they would have when they were younger. Egg freezing is usually done when a woman is younger. But how do you choose where to freeze your eggs? And how do you prepare for the process?
What is Egg Freezing?
Egg freezing involves the harvesting of eggs from the ovaries and freezing them to preserve them for future use. As a woman ages, egg quantity decreases and their quality declines, with higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities. If you freeze your eggs when you are 30 and decide when you are 40 to have a baby, you can use the frozen, higher-quality eggs to increase your chances of having a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby, even at an advanced maternity age.
Who might consider Egg Freezing?
Most women will appreciate freezing their eggs in case of a “rainy day,” whether that means due to a medical condition or procedure that may impact fertility, or unexplained infertility in the future when you are ready to start a family. And even if you know you want a baby, but just not right at this second — egg freezing might be the right choice for you.
You might consider freezing your eggs if:
- You know you want children later in life
- Your periods are irregular, putting you at risk for infertility in the future
- You have a family history of pre-mature menopause
- You are at increased risk of certain cancers or have been diagnosed with cancer that requires chemotherapy and/or radiation that can impact your fertility
- You work in potentially hazardous situations/environments that may impact future fertility
What is the best age to freeze your eggs?
The earlier the better! Advanced maternity age is defined as 35 years or older, so the best time to freeze your eggs is in your 20’s to early 30’s, so that if you plan to have a baby after 35, you will have a higher chance of success with younger, better-quality eggs.
Egg freezing can be a solution to future infertility
In our modern era, infertility is typically a result of people waiting longer to get pregnant; when they are finally ready to conceive, their age may impact their ability to become pregnant. A woman’s window of fertility is limited, and that window gets smaller and smaller with age.
The graph below demonstrates that a woman has the highest chance of becoming pregnant when she is 25 years old, but in reality, few people are ready to have a baby at that age. Many want to achieve both their career aspirations and economic stability before becoming parents, meaning that a person might be 35-40 years old when they are ready to conceive, at which point their chances of becoming pregnant has already dropped significantly. This doesn’t consider any pre-existing medical conditions and other natural consequences of the aging process which may also further negatively impact the ability to get pregnant. Infertility is formally diagnosed when a woman is unable to conceive after one year of unprotected sex, with this number dropping to six months if a woman is over 35
Does egg quality really decline with age?
Eggs are lost naturally every month through both menstruation and the natural aging process, so by time one is ready to become pregnant, many eggs will have already been lost. A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have in her lifetime, approximately 1-2 million eggs, but she will begin losing them as soon as she is born, at a rate of approximately 10,000 eggs a month until she reaches puberty.
During puberty, about 1,000 eggs will be lost each month and typically only one will travel from the ovaries down the fallopian tubes to the uterus (ovulation). If the egg, or oocyte, isn’t fertilized, the monthly menstruation process will take care of the rest, and the cycle starts again the next month. There really is only one chance of getting pregnant each month!
Unfortunately, unlike sperm, a woman’s body does not make more eggs. Once lost, there is no getting them back or replacing them. If one doesn’t get pregnant in their most fertile years, with fewer eggs and declining egg quality, conception is less likely.
If you are planning to have children, why should you freeze your eggs?
Egg freezing is an option for women who aren’t ready to become pregnant, but are planning to in the near (or distant) future. Egg freezing may also be an option for a woman that is ready to become pregnant, but is having difficulty conceiving due to other factors. You might consider freezing your eggs if you have a medical condition that impacts reproduction, or you’d like to harvest the best quality eggs to use in the future, or you would like to have a baby utilizing in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Medical conditions that impact reproduction
Certain medical conditions and their treatment can impact reproduction, such as breast, ovarian, or cervical cancer, ovarian or uterine cysts, past surgeries of the reproductive system and premature ovarian failure or menopause. Chemotherapy and radiation as part of cancer treatment will negatively impact fertility and egg quality, so freezing your eggs before treatment is also an option.
- Saving the best quality eggs to use in the future
The younger the eggs, the better the chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy. Freezing eggs when you are younger preserves your best quality eggs for future use when you are ready, allowing you to prioritize work, travel, and other life experiences until the time is right.
- Having a baby through IVF or ICSI
Having a baby utilizing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) allows for genetic screening of the embryo, which is especially important for parents with genetic conditions that can be passed on to biological children. Harvesting eggs is part of this process and freezing them early precludes better results when IVF/ICSI is attempted in the future.
Preparation before Egg Freezing
- After the initial consultation and stimulation of the ovaries, the doctor will schedule an appointment for egg collection.
- Please fast for at least eight hours before the procedure.
- Avoid painting your fingernails and toenails.
- Please remove your contact lenses on the day; you may wear your glasses to the appointment.
- Avoid wearing any make-up.
- Please arrive to the clinic two hours before your procedure to prepare. Please arrive on time as delays can affect the egg collection process.
- Someone should accompany you to the appointment to help you get home afterward.
Egg Freezing procedure
Step 1: Meet the Doctor
One of our infertility specialists will ask you about your medical history and provide information and recommendations regarding egg freezing. Consultations are free at Beyond IVF, so feel free to make an appointment, even if you’re just curious about the process!
Step 2: Physical examination
A vaginal ultrasound will be done to assess the uterus and ovaries, including blood tests to check your initial hormone levels. This allows our doctor to determine the timeline for the egg collection procedure and the dosage required for the stimulation medication.
Step 3: Ovarian stimulation
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is injected to stimulate the ovaries and increase the size and quantity of eggs (also called controlled ovarian hyperstimulation). This injection must be administered in the abdomen at the same time every day for 10-12 days. This process replaces natural ovulation and uses medication to bring it on instead.
Step 4: Monitoring the eggs
Approximately seven days into the ovarian stimulation process you will return to see your doctor for a second ultrasound to monitor your response to the hormones. Dosage will then be adjusted if needed as recommended by our doctor.
Step 5: Trigger ovulation
Once the eggs have reached the desired size (18-20mm in width) by approximately day 10-12, the doctor will administer a trigger shot to force ovulation, which typically occurs thirty-six hours after the trigger, leading us into the next step, egg collection.
Step 6: Egg collection
Thirty-six hours after receiving the trigger shot, your doctor will make an appointment for egg collection, during which you’ll be sedated (twilight anesthesia) by a certified anesthesiologist. Vaginal ultrasound is used to guide a needle to collect the eggs individually from each ovary. There is no incision and one to two hours of rest is typical after the procedure before you’re allowed to return home.
Step 7: Egg freezing
Once the eggs have been collected they will be sent to our certified embryologist to screen for quality before being graded, prepared and frozen in liquid nitrogen at -195 degrees Celsius.
Care after the procedure
- It is recommended that you don’t drive or travel home alone after the procedure.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects or exercising strenuously for at least one week.
- Avoid sexual intercourse for at least one week.
- Please monitor yourself for any symptoms. If you experience severe abdominal pain or swelling, please see your doctor immediately. Please don’t take any medication without consulting your doctor.
Pros and Cons of Egg Freezing
What are the advantages of freezing your eggs?
- The best quality eggs can be harvested and frozen, essentially stopping the aging process
- Reduces the risk of Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities caused by pregnancies later in life
- Can be a treatment for infertility when done in conjunction with IVF
- Is a relatively painless out-patient procedure that does not require a recovery period
- Provides agency in family planning
What are the disadvantages of freezing your eggs?
- There are costs associated with storing your eggs (at Beyond IVF, the cost is 2000 baht a year per egg)
- Some people may experience discomfort after the egg collection procedure, but your doctor will provide recommendations on how to best manage any temporary discomfort
Egg Freezing success rates
The chances of a successful pregnancy with frozen eggs are the same as through a natural process. The recommended age to try to become pregnant is from 20 years old until 35 years old as this is when you are most fertile. When frozen eggs are thawed using vitrification, their survival rate is as high as 90-95%. So the more eggs are collected, the higher the chances of a successful pregnancy.
Your doctor will recommend the appropriate number of eggs to be collected and age is a factor in this decision. Women under 35 will often have 10-15 eggs collected for one pregnancy and this number will decline as you get older. The chance of pregnancy is 7% per egg.
Remember that pregnancy is not 100% guaranteed with egg collection as there are other biological factors in both the male and female partners that come into play, just as they would in a natural pregnancy. Egg freezing is just a method to store eggs outside your body.
Egg Freezing side effects
- Side effects caused by hormones used to stimulate egg production and ovulation can cause swelling of the ovaries and some back discomfort after egg collection; some women may also experience abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
- Side effects of the egg collection process may include vaginal bleeding/spotting and infection if post-operative care is not abided and impact to nearby organs, such as the intestines, bladder, and blood vessels.
- Egg collection can be an emotional experience with the expectations of pregnancy, the stress of infertility and side effects from the medication; mood swings are not uncommon after egg collection.
During the egg freezing process, the dosages of stimulation medication and the schedule will vary from person-to-person, making it essential that the entire process is supervised by a reproductive specialist.
How much does Egg Freezing cost?
Egg freezing is a significant investment in your future children. At Beyond IVF the cost starts at 89,900 baht (discounted from 134,000 baht) and includes:
- Ovarian stimulation medication (1,500 IU)
- Medication to prevent early ovulation (2 doses are included in package; additional doses will be charged separately)
- Trigger shot to force ovulation of mature eggs (1 dose)
- Two ultrasounds for monitoring egg growth (during stimulation)
- One blood test to check hormone levels after stimulation
- Egg collection process (also called ovum pick-up, or OPU)
- Egg selection and grading by a qualified embryologist
- Egg freezing (free freezing for 1 year and 2,000 THB per egg per year after)
- All doctor fees included
- Doctor’s appointment the day before collection
Egg Freezing at Beyond IVF
Nowadays you can freeze your eggs at any clinic or hospital, but when you go to big hospitals, the downside is that sometimes you have to wait months before you can get an appointment. This is different from Beyond IVF because once you’ve talked to the doctor and decided to freeze your eggs, the doctor will ask you to wait for your next period and then begin the process.
Our chief infertility specialist, Dr. Phunsak “Ton” Suchonwanit, is a certified OB/GYN and a leading expert in infertility and IVF with over 25 years of experience. With overseas fellowships at prestigious US-based centers, such as Boston IVF, you can rest at ease knowing that you’ll be receiving the highest levels of care and advice.
Furthermore, our clinic maintains the highest standards of cleanliness and safety, with a knowledgeable team of experts always available to answer your questions and world-class technology identical to many big hospitals. In addition, our facility and the property it’s located on are owned completely by us and not leased, so you’ll be able to trust that your precious cargo will be safe at Beyond IVF for years to come.
FAQs of Egg Freezing
How long can the eggs remain frozen?
Eggs can be frozen for more than 10 years, but there are no reports that clearly demonstrate how long eggs can be frozen for them to still result in pregnancy. Medical research only covers cases where eggs that have been frozen for four to five years were thawed, fertilized, and implanted, and that resulted in pregnancy.
Freezing eggs in liquid nitrogen is believed to halt aging of cells and it is believed that even after 10 years, the frozen eggs will not deteriorate and still retain their quality.
Can you freeze eggs at 40 or over?
The doctor will determine this by checking your AMH (Anti-Müllerian hormone) levels. If you are still menstruating regularly, your ovaries are still producing eggs, whether a few or many, then egg freezing is a viable option.
On the other hand, some young people have ovaries similar to those who are in their 50’s (premature ovarian failure). So if you are 40 and your ovaries respond to stimulation and can produce eggs, age might not mean much when it comes to egg freezing. However, the quality of your eggs at 40 may not be as good as they were when you were younger than 35.
If you freeze your eggs at 40, your doctor will likely recommend you do IVF or ICSI within three years as the rate of implantation will decrease after 40 and your chances of getting pregnant will start dropping dramatically.
Is it safe to freeze your eggs if you have PCOS?
Yes, you can, but under the supervision of your doctor who will carefully manage the dosages of medications to best suit your body to retrieve the best quality eggs while ensuring your safety.
Can you have sexual intercourse during ovarian stimulation?
Yes, you can have sexual intercourse normally during the stimulation process, but if there is a plan to collect sperm (for freezing) around the same time as the eggs, the male partner will need to abstain for at least one week prior. So having sex close to when sperm has to be collected with decrease the chances of success.
Egg freezing isn’t just about storing your eggs while you wait for a partner. For women worried about conceiving in the future because they may not have as many eggs or have high-quality eggs by the time they are ready to become pregnant, egg freezing is a good option. It is also an important option for women who cannot conceive at the time due to medical factors or existing medical conditions and treatments that can affect fertility.
Egg freezing gives you control over your family planning. When you are ready to get pregnant you can then explore the many assisted reproductive technologies (ART) available to help you conceive. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact us on Line @beyondivf