Five Facts About Egg Freezing That You Should Know
Posted on June 30th, 2022
Egg freezing, also commonly referred to as fertility preservation, provides women with an opportunity that was not an option for previous generations. With egg freezing, women can put their family planning goals on hold so that they can focus on the priorities that matter most right now, such as career growth, traveling, or finding the right partner. One of the core benefits of egg freezing is that you have greater control over your goals, no matter what those goals are.
Before getting started, it’s helpful to learn as much as possible about egg freezing. Here are six facts that anyone interested in freezing their eggs should know.
1. Medications and the Egg Retrieval Process
Eggs are developed inside small fluid-filled sacs known as follicles, which are located inside the ovaries. In a normal ovulation cycle, multiple follicles will be activated, but only one will produce a fully-matured egg, which is then released into one of the fallopian tubes. In egg freezing, as well as other forms of fertility care, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), patients are given fertility medications that stimulate the ovaries into producing multiple mature eggs during a single ovulation cycle, which increases the chances of having a higher number of viable eggs.
While taking these medications, you are monitored regularly by your fertility specialist to make sure the medications are working properly and determine when the eggs are ready to be retrieved. When your eggs are ready, the doctor will instruct you to administer what’s known as a trigger shot, which is an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone that prompts the ovaries to release the mature eggs. At this time, your egg retrieval procedure will be scheduled. During the procedure, you will be put under sedation while the doctor retrieves the eggs using transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. This involves inserting an ultrasound wand into the vagina to find the follicles and using a tiny aspirating needle to gently suction the eggs from the ovaries.
2. Cryopreservation and Vitrification
After your eggs are retrieved, they are carefully cryopreserved in a laboratory through a process called vitrification, which rapidly freezes the eggs to subzero temperatures safely. Before freezing, the eggs are treated with cryoprotectants, which help to protect the eggs’ structural integrity. Vitrification keeps ice crystals from forming as the eggs are frozen, which means that they are protected during the freezing and thawing processes.
3. Possible Side Effects
Because egg freezing relies on powerful hormone medications to stimulate the maturation of multiple eggs at once, it is possible to experience side effects. The most common of these side effects include bloating, nausea, mood changes, cramping, breast tenderness, and headaches. For most patients, these side effects should be relatively mild to moderate and should go away on their own. However, a small number of patients sometimes experience more severe side effects.
When taking fertility medications, it’s important that you report to your doctor any side effects that you are experiencing, no matter how minor. There may also be some side effects from the retrieval procedure itself, including bloating, cramping, or a sense of pressure in the pelvic region. Again, it’s important that you speak to your doctor about any of your symptoms.
4. The Ideal Egg Freezing Age Range
Women are typically encouraged to freeze their eggs before age 35. This is because egg quality and quantity are likely to be at their highest before this time. It is certainly possible to freeze your eggs at age 35 and older, however, it’s important to note that the possibility of success may be lower.
5. Paying for egg freezing
Egg freezing is not typically covered by insurance. Some providers may offer coverage for medically-necessary fertility preservation (e.g. if you’re about to undergo cancer treatment and wish to preserve your fertility). During the earliest stages of the decision-making process, confirm with your insurance provider to see what is and isn’t covered by your plan.
Egg Freezing in Houston, TX
If you live in the Houston, TX metro area and are interested in egg freezing, we encourage you to connect with Aspire Houston Fertility Institute. Preserving your fertility doesn’t have to be a source of stress or an emotional burden, you have options available to you right here in Houston that takes the guesswork out of family planning.