Egg Freezing Process
Step 1: Fertility Assessment
For the first step in egg freezing process, you will meet with your doctor to discuss your medical history, as well as your needs and expectations. On the third day of your period, you will have blood work to assess hormonal function which reflects your current fertility status (“ovarian reserve”) and a vaginal ultrasound performed to make sure that there are no structural abnormalities and to let us know how many eggs we may be able to retrieve. The results of these tests will allow your fertility specialist to assess your current fertility potential and to develop your personalized egg freezing treatment plan.
Step 2: Ovarian Stimulation
Next, you will give yourself hormone injections to stimulate your ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible (the number should be reflected by your initial ultrasound evaluation). During this process, you will need to come to our office every few days to receive regular monitoring (ultrasound and blood work) to assess your response to the medications and to see if doses need adjusting. When your eggs have matured, your doctor will inform you that it is time to trigger the final stage of maturation and start the ovulation process (the release of your eggs) using a different injectable medication. Your eggs will be retrieved as described below.
During stimulation you will need to avoid any exercise that is jarring to your pelvis in order to protect your ovaries, which will increase in size as the follicles (cysts that contain the eggs) also grow, as well as avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine, medications and many herbal supplements. Your doctor or nurse will discuss what medications and levels of activity are safe for you to take during stimulation.
During stimulation you may experience symptoms similar to what you are accustomed to experiencing during your regular monthly menstruation including: fatigue, headaches, bloating, breast tenderness, cramping and mood swings.
Step 3: Egg Retrieval
Thirty-five hours after the “trigger shot,” your doctor will collect your eggs during a minor surgical procedure which is performed while you are under anesthesia, by placing a needle through the wall of your vagina into the follicles under ultrasound guidance. The day of the procedure, you will need a caregiver to drive you home and to stay with you for the rest of the day as the anesthesia wears off.
For a few days following your retrieval, you may be bloated and experience cramping and mild discomfort. You will be able to return to work within 24-48 hours following your retrieval and you will feel completely “back to normal” following your next period. We ask that you refrain from exercising until after the next period starts.
Step 4: Egg Freezing
Once your eggs have been successfully retrieved, all mature eggs will be vitrified (rapidly frozen) and stored securely until you’re ready to use them. The embryologist will let you know how many mature, healthy eggs have been frozen.
The entire process to prepare for egg freezing and to retrieve the eggs generally takes 2-3 weeks for mosts patients, but it can vary depending on the specifics of your situation.
WHERE YOU FREEZE YOUR EGGS MATTERS
If you’re going to pause your biological clock, do it with a clinic that is a global leader in fertility treatment.
All fertility clinics are not created equal. Before choosing an egg freezing clinic, visit the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) website. All SART–member fertility clinics are required to report success rates in a standardized manner and requires its members to adhere to strict practice, advertising and ethical guidelines. Remember, not all clinics are SART members and, therefore, do not have to adhere to these guidelines!
Since your eventual goal is to have a baby someday, it’s important to make sure that you know that the clinic that you choose not only is able to freeze eggs, but has reported success after eggs are thawed.