If you’re not quite ready for motherhood, or still haven't met that special someone, have you thought about putting your eggs on ice?
When it comes to female fertility, timing is the most important factor, and being proactive can make a big difference in your chance of motherhood. These days, science has given women the option to say ‘yes’ to motherhood when you're ready.
What exactly is egg freezing?
Egg freezing is a method of storing a woman’s unfertilised eggs to allow her to try to conceive at a later date. It can be seen as a way of preserving the possibility of fertility for women who are not in a position to become pregnant straight away.
Female fertility is highly depending on a woman’s age. The number of eggs you produce rapidly declines as you get older, and sadly there is also an increased risk of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities.
The impact of age on fertility really starts to kick in for women over the age of 36. For this reason, we recommend considering freezing your eggs before the age of 35, since this will give you the highest chance of success later on.
Ladies, meet the AMH Test.
Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) is a hormone secreted by cells in developing egg sacs (follicles), and the level of AMH in a your blood is a good indicator of your ovarian reserve.
The AMH Test can provide insight into the remaining quantity of eggs a woman has remaining, although it does not give any information about the quality of the eggs. AMH can be tested through a blood sample at any time of the month, plus, it can be tested while you are using hormonal contraception. It’s also usually one of the first steps for understanding if egg freezing could be right for you.
Egg Freezing Process
To put it simply, egg freezing requires 10-12 days of self-administered hormonal stimulation via daily injections, followed by a 20 minute collection procedure (usually done under light anaesthetic) followed by the freezing and storing of the eggs.
We’ve broken down the process of egg freezing in more detail for you here, also check out our FAQs below.
Step 1: Hello, hormones!
The first step is to prepare for egg collection through hormonal stimulation medication for about 10 – 12 days. This enables more eggs to grow than they would naturally in your monthly cycle.
The medications are self-administered by a daily injection using a simple pen device with a small needle. The injections may make the woman feel a little bloated, but there are no frequent or significant side effects and she can carry out all normal activities.
Step 2: Egg Collection
Once the fertility specialist confirms there are enough eggs for a procedure (with monitoring via blood tests and ultrasound), the egg collection will be scheduled. The procedure is usually carried out under light general anaesthetic or with sedation. You can go home 1 -2 hours after the procedure, and are advised not to drive and to rest for the reminder of the day.
This procedure is performed by the fertility specialist using an ultrasound guided probe. Attached to the ultrasound probe is a needle guide. The fine needle passes through the vaginal wall into the ovary and draws the fluid (and your precious eggs) from the ovary.
Step 3: Ice, Ice, Baby.
Once in the laboratory, the eggs undergo a freezing procedure called vitrification. This involves rapidly freezing the eggs using a process that extracts fluid from the eggs to prevent potentially damaging ice crystal formation. Once vitrified, eggs may be stored for many years without significant deterioration.
If you decide that it’s time to say ‘yes’ to trying for a baby using your frozen eggs, the eggs are warmed and then fertilised with sperm. The aim is for the fertilised egg to develop into an embryo, which can then be transferred to your uterus, giving you a chance of pregnancy.
Ready to chat? Speak with the egg freezing experts today.
Our experienced fertility specialists would be happy to walk you through the process in more detail, to help you decide if egg freezing is the right option for you.
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- How much does egg freezing cost?
In Australia, Medicare and other government subsidies are only payable for fertility treatment when there is a medical indication. Cycle costs are dependent on your individual circumstances. We encourage you to book an appointment with our friendly team to discuss your options.
- What are the chances of having a baby using frozen eggs?
Good question. It’s important to understand that the chance of success is largely determined by the woman’s age at the time of freezing.
Let’s break down the stats:
For a woman aged 35 or under, one stimulated cycle would result in the collection of 10 – 12 eggs, of which 7 – 9 would be suitable for vitrification and storage:
- Approximately 80-90% of eggs would survive warming in the future
- Approximately 50-80% of surviving eggs would fertilise
- Approximately 80-90% of fertilised eggs would develop into embryos
- A single embryo would have a 20-35% change of developing into a pregnancy
While these numbers may seem smaller than you might have expected, egg freezing is all about giving you the best possible chance of a successful pregnancy, even if you’re not ready until years down the track.
If you consider the statistics for natural conception, once a woman turns 36, the chance of conceiving is halved compared to her chance at 20 years of age. And at the age of 41, this chance falls to just 4%.
So ultimately, egg freezing enables women to explore all of their reproductive options, in her own time.