It is the process of extracting, freezing, and storing a woman’s eggs until she’s ready to be pregnant. When she wants a baby, her eggs can be thawed, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus as embryos. Yes, these are the zygotes you learned about in your high school science class.
Reason: Because the biological clock and the life clock aren't always synced up. The biological clock is the one that makes it harder to get pregnant the longer you wait. The life clock, on the other hand, may have you spending your prime baby-making years doing everything besides making babies. Egg freezing procedure can help you slow down time if you want to wait and get pregnant later. This can be done between the period of doing infertility treatment or while doing IVF treatment.
Think of egg freezing procedure as a 401K for your fertility; you put healthy eggs in the bank now so that you can withdraw them later. Capturing and preserving a woman’s eggs when they’re young and healthy helps ensure that, when she tries to get knocked up, her eggs are ready to rumble.
Procedure: First, you start on birth control, so that the doctors can strictly control your cycle. Then you inject hormones that stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. That takes about 10-12 days. Then the eggs are retrieved, which takes about 30 minutes and involves anesthesia. While you’re snoozing, your doc uses an ultrasound to guide a needle up your vagina and a suction device to remove some eggs from the follicles. It’s technically not that different from getting blood drawn! The only difference is eggs being removed, not blood, and the fun’s going down in the vag instead of your arm.
When a woman is ready to get pregnant, which could be years later, the eggs are thawed, injected with a sperm to achieve fertilization, and transferred to the uterus as embryos. The pressure is similar to a Pap smear—no pain, no sedation, no drugs required (whew!). Your doc will pass an embryo transfer catheter up through your cervical opening to the uterine cavity, then squirt the embryo out of the catheter. World’s priciest squirt gun.Z
Cost: Unfortunately, it costs a pretty penny. The big ticket items include the egg extraction and accompanying drugs, the egg storage, and the egg reinsertion (IVF). There are a different cost of the different clinic.
When: Remember, egg freezing procedure is essentially an insurance policy for your fertility. The younger you freeze, the better the results—and also the lower the likelihood that you’ll need to use the eggs, as you’ll have more time to get pregnant naturally.
As with many things in life, there’s no formula for the perfect approach. Your timing should depend on how much insurance you want to buy for your fertility, and every woman has different opinions and preferences.
That said, researchers at the UNC School of Medicine recently dug into the question of whether there is a “right” age to freeze your eggs and they found, freezing eggs before age 34 had the best results, but doing it too early didn’t make sense—again, a lot of women who froze in their 20s didn’t end up using the frozen eggs in the end. When the scientists optimized to find the best age for both a) passable egg quality, and b) high likelihood that the frozen eggs would actually be used, age 37 came out on top. So if you’re going to think about getting egg-freezing done, your 30s are a good time to get serious.
Where: The procedure happens at fertility clinics. Your frozen eggs might live at the fertility clinic, or they could be sent to a cryobank, a facility for long-term secure maintenance of frozen human specimens.
When choosing a clinic, it is important to consider how often this clinic performs egg freezing procedure and what their success rate is with thawed eggs.
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