You’ve heard about women who have frozen their eggs, and you think the process may be a viable option for your own fertility preservation.
But you still have lots of questions.
Good — we’re here to help. We’ve compiled the egg freezing FAQs that women often have about their options.
I Know About Embryo Freezing, but What Is Egg Freezing?
Mature oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) is the process of extracting and preserving a woman’s egg cells for future childbearing potential. Freezing preservation is done before fertilization.
Is Freezing Eggs Better Than Freezing Embryos?
Your choice depends on your specific situation and desires. There are many reasons people opt for this approach to fertility preservation.
Some women need medical treatment that can put reproductive tissues at risk. Other women object to freezing embryos. For other, it’s a lifestyle choice — they’re opting to start a family later in life. The age limit for freezing eggs depends on many factors. But the best candidates for this type of fertility preservation are women in their 20s or early 30s.
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How Does a Doctor Retrieve the Eggs?
When you choose to freeze your eggs, the egg extraction process is the same as IVF. Using transvaginal ultrasound and a small needle, your doctor navigates through the vagina to the ovaries. The instrument draws out a number of eggs and follicular fluid to be examined and stored by an embryologist.
Hormonal preparation for this procedure may take a couple weeks. But the procedure itself takes less than half an hour.
Does the Egg Retrieval Process Hurt?
Thanks to technological advances in internal imaging and anesthesia, the process is painless. Minor side effects may occur, but the retrieval process is straightforward and comfortable.
How Many Eggs Does a Doctor Have to Retrieve for Storage?
The fertility hormones administered before the egg retrieval process enable more than the usual one egg to mature for extraction.
Remember, the goal is healthy future pregnancies. So your doctor will attempt to safely extract as many eggs as possible. In fact, fertility specialists often recommend multiple egg retrieval cycles, so enough mature eggs can be stored to give you the best chance for a future pregnancy.
Where Are Eggs Stored?
Eggs are frozen and stored in a safe, secure facility until you’re ready to use them.
How Long Can Frozen Eggs Survive in Storage?
Frozen human eggs should stay viable indefinitely. Their viability depends more on your age and overall health at the time the eggs are retrieved.
What Happens to the Eggs When I Am Ready to Conceive?
When the time is right for you, the eggs are retrieved from storage and thawed. Then the final stage of IVF will begin. Thawed eggs have roughly the same success rate of pregnancy as fresh eggs. Your team of embryologists will inject your previously frozen egg with the sperm cell of your partner or chosen sperm donor. After a culture period, the embryo will be transferred, You then undergo monitoring for a successful pregnancy.
Choosing to preserve your reproductive potential is a big decision. And you might still have questions.
Talking to a medical professional is the best way to ease your mind. To schedule an appointment with the Center for Reproductive Endocrinology at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, call 412-641-1000, option 1. To talk with the friendly experts at UPMC Magee’s Fertility Preservation Program, call 412-641-7475.
For patients in Central Pa., please contact a Shady Grove Fertility location near you.
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About UPMC Magee-Womens
Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.
Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.