Top 10 Most Common Questions Asked When Considering Egg Freezing
For the last few decades, more and more women have been opting to take control of their reproductive health and fertility and start their families later in life—often through methods such as egg freezing. In fact, 2020 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and National Center for Health Statistics showed fertility rates of women ages 20-24 declined by 43%, while those of women ages 35-39 increased by 67% during the roughly 30-year period.
Egg freezing (including through donor eggs) has played an important role in this trend, helping to preserve fertility for those who might be delaying parenthood to focus on their career and have access to an insurance policy with coverage for treatment, medical necessities, and more. However, it’s important to remember that age can impact egg freezing success rates.
If you’re considering this option to preserve your fertility and have questions like “how do I get started?” and “how much does it cost to freeze eggs?” we’re here to help. Let’s walk through some of the things you may want to know before you get started.
Egg Freezing 101
1. What is egg freezing?
Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, involves stimulating, extracting, freezing, and storing your eggs (oocytes). Months or years later, when you are ready to pursue pregnancy, your eggs can be thawed and fertilized with sperm in order to create embryos. An embryo can then be transferred into your uterus in the hope of achieving a healthy, successful pregnancy.
2. Do I have to stop taking birth control?
The birth control pill is typically used in preparation for an egg freezing cycle. Once you are ready to begin treatment, you will stop the birth control pill just for the actual cycle in which you freeze your eggs.
3. What is the process for freezing my eggs?
The process begins with hormonal injections that will stimulate your ovaries to grow multiple eggs at the same time. For about a week and a half, we will monitor your body’s response to stimulation through blood tests and ultrasounds every few days. Once the eggs look “ready” based on hormone levels and ultrasound findings, they are then extracted under anesthesia (through a very brief outpatient procedure).
4. When should I freeze my eggs?
There’s no right or wrong time to freeze your eggs; it all depends on your unique circumstances. As we know, fertility declines as we age, so if you are planning to start your family later in life, it’s recommended that you freeze your eggs in your late 20s or early 30s. This tends to be the age when you have a higher ovarian reserve and healthier eggs. Studies have shown that the older women are when they freeze their eggs, the probability of getting pregnant later on decreases.
Additionally, if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer or any other illnesses that may impact the quality and/or quantity of your eggs, it may make sense to consider freezing your eggs even sooner to help preserve your fertility.
5. How long does the process take?
In total, the egg freezing process can range anywhere from 10 to 12 days. For the first 8 to 10 days, the patient will take a small subcutaneous injection to help stimulate egg production and then come in for the retrieval process. This process involves conscious sedation—meaning the patient feels no pain or discomfort during the procedure yet is still breathing on her own and wakes up immediately afterward. After retrieval, the eggs are frozen and stored long-term at our facility.
Some patients may be advised by their fertility specialist to undergo a second cycle of egg harvesting. This often depends on the patient’s age and the number of eggs you may want to cryopreserve.
6. How many eggs do I need to freeze?
There is no set number that will guarantee a successful pregnancy in the future. If a woman under 35 years of age is able to freeze at least 6 to 8 eggs, then there is good chance that a healthy pregnancy could result from that group of eggs. If feasible, freezing 10-20 eggs would further increase the probability of success.
7. How long can my eggs remain frozen?
There’s no time limit! Eggs, like sperm and embryos, can remain frozen for many years.
8. Is egg freezing safe?
Based on the medical information we have to date, egg freezing is thought to be quite safe and has not been associated with an increased risk of birth defects, chromosomal abnormalities, or pregnancy complications compared to pregnancies derived from fresh eggs.
9. What are the success rates associated with egg freezing?
When working with an experienced fertility clinic, pregnancy rates from frozen eggs are comparable to rates using fresh eggs. In fact, a recent study that looked at long-term outcomes in women who froze eggs and later returned to use them over a 15-year period found similar pregnancy rates to those in fresh IVF cycles.
10. What is the cost of egg freezing?
The simple answer is it can vary. In some states, egg freezing is partly covered by fertility insurance, and employers are also increasingly offering it free as a benefit to their employees. In order to make egg freezing more affordable, a complete cycle of monitoring, retrieving, and freezing the eggs at Fertility Centers of New England costs $6,000; this includes all treatment except for medication. Our team can help you determine if any financial programs are available for you as well.
If you have more questions on egg freezing or are interested in finding out the best option, please contact us for a free* initial consultation. We are here to help.
*Consultations are free for those without fertility insurance.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 14, 2015, but was updated in August 2022 to reflect more current information.