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What is the process of freezing eggs and timeline?

7 fertility expert(s) answered this question

Answer from: Maria José Mendiola, MD, MSc in Human Genetics, MSc in Science Communication, ObGyn

Gynaecologist, Gynaecologist in Reproductive Medicine & Reproductive Genetics Clínica Monterrico
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The first step is to make the decision and go for a medical consultation. Detailed evaluation of the patients by the physicist, her history will be carried out as well as her ovarian reserve and hormonal profile will be assessed. The process involves stimulating, collecting, freezing and their storing of women’s eggs. The way eggs are collected for egg freezing is the same as IVF and it involves injecting hormones to stimulate the ovaries over a few weeks to produce multiple eggs. When the eggs have matured, they are collected from the patients and frozen. Typically this process takes around two weeks.

Answer from: Melvin H. Thornton, Associate Professor

Gynaecologist, Medical Director & IVF Director Global Fertility & Genetics
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The egg freezing process is a pretty straightforward process. The first thing when you’re undergoing social freezing is to have ovarian reserve testing. These are ways to check your ovarian reserve, your blood test to look and at your hormones. There is one hormone called Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), which gives you an idea of what your long-term reserve is like. As well as having an ultrasound to look to see how many resting follicles or antral follicles you have resting at the beginning of your period. Once you have a screening process, everything looks like you still have a good healthy reserve of eggs.

The actual procedure to freeze eggs is very quick from start to finish, it may take about 10 to 12 days. At the time of the retrieval, which is done either on the local or IV sedation mostly here in the US is an IV sedation. The procedure itself takes about 20 to 30 minutes from start to finish. And then recovery is about another 30 to 40 minutes, and at that time, we will be able to let you know how many eggs we’re actually able to retrieve. And then later that day we’ll let you know how many eggs are actually frozen. And what I mean by that is that when you undergo the egg freezing process, you will have eggs that are mature and eggs that are immature. Only the mature eggs can be frozen and used in the future for your fertility. So you may have a young healthy woman that may make 20 eggs and of the 20 there may be 17 or 18 that are mature. So those 17 or 18 are the ones that we will freeze and the other two that the immature, we wouldn’t be able to freeze.

How many eggs are able to be retrieved? It depends upon the ovarian reserve of the person who’s undergoing the freezing. So for example, we don’t want to make too many eggs because if you make too many eggs, many times those eggs are unhealthy. And you have to worry about a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, where if you make too many eggs, that will make you get very bloated and in very rare cases can end up in the hospital. So the average number of eggs that we shoot for is anywhere between 15 to 20. Now, some women will make less someone will make more. But as long as you make a good number in this safe range, that’s fine. The woman who makes few eggs such as you know two or three; those may be enough to help her have a child in the future. But we do have conversations about considering doing the process again to make sure you have a good number of eggs.

And everyone says well what’s a good number of eggs? Most people will say about 15 to 20 eggs now that depends upon your age because a young woman who has good quality eggs may only need six to eight eggs, while a woman who’s in her early 40s may need 20 eggs. So it’s all about what is your goal for the future. When you look into the future, how many children do you see? If you say I just want to have a chance to have one baby; then 15 eggs is a good number. If you say I like to have the chance to have two eggs, then you’re gonna need more and young women you may need about 15 and 20. In older women in their 40s, you may need somewhere between 20 to 25 sometimes 30. So it all depends on the quality of your egg reserve, your future goals, and your physician who will be able to help you identify what’s the best number of eggs for you.

Answer from: Eugenia Rocafort, BSc, MSc

Embryologist, Senior Embryologist ESHRE and ASEBIR certified Quironsalud Hospital Barcelona
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It hasn’t been shown that the time that the eggs are stored can be affecting the success rates, however you should be aware of the quality standards that your laboratory is following. They should be checking regularly the times where the eggs are stored.

Answer from: Ioannis Zervomanolakis, PhD

Gynaecologist, Obstetrician Hygeia IVF Athens
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The whole process is simple, as it is performed on a routine basis and the reason for that is the following: we perform the pick-up of those oocytes under sedation, small anesthesia, and that is why people don’t experience any pain during the procedure. As far as any risk is concerned, the whole procedure is regarded as very safe for the patients and the main issue that we get questioned about, from the patients is if there is any reason to avoid egg freezing any medical treatment because of cancer issues. All studies we have, have shown that there is no correlation between the medical treatment that is used during the egg freezing procedure and the risk that this woman has to develop cancer in the future.

Answer from: Jessica Subira, M.D. Consultant in Gynecology, Sub-specialist in Reproductive Medicine

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The first part as we said before is an ovarian stimulation and that usually takes around between 10 and 12 days. You will be injecting yourself every day with gonadotropins which are artificial forms of the natural hormones. Then what we will be doing is just measuring and bringing you back to the unit for several scans to check how the eggs are growing inside the follicles. Once they reach the perfect diameter then you will be given what we call a trigger injection to trigger the maturation of the oocyte and we will do the egg retrieval.
The egg retrieval itself it’s a very simple procedure. It’s a surgical technique and then it’s like a normal scan but with heavy sedation where with a needle attached to the prob of the scan so we can aspirate the fluid and then get the eggs. During this time you can have use normal life and then there is  very very little limitations so very few limitations so in that would be the process of egg freezing

Answer from: Bárbara Silvera Gijón, Embriologist

Embryologist, Embriologist Quirónsalud Valencia
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First we do ovarian reserve testing,  blood tests to check your hormones, there is one hormone called Anti Mullerian Hormone which gives us approximately what your long-term reserve is like, also we do an ultrasound to see the follicles the patient has at the beginning of the period. Once everything is ok to continue with the procedure which is not long it takes about 10-12 days depending on the response, injectable hormone medications are given for females when they are safe to give. The retrieval surgery takes place about 36 hours after the injection of trigger shot, which signals the follicles to prepare to ovulate, the procedure, the egg retrieval is done under sedation, a catheter is put through the upper part of the vagina and into the ovary to collect the eggs.  The procedure itself takes about 20 minutes, and the patient’s recovery is about another 30-40 minutes.
At that moment is when we really know how many oocytes are extracted exactly and on that same day the patient is told how many have been vitrified, since they have to be accumulated to see how many of these oocytes are mature, only the mature can be frozen, and also they have to be morphologically normal, after this we proceed to the vitrification of these eggs. So for example if we have a patient that has 15 eggs there may be 12  mature so those would be vitrified. 

Answer from: Alicia Tio Castro

Embryologist, Fertility navigator
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Typically when a woman wants to preserve her fertility she needs to visit a fertility specialist, so they can talk with them, explain the process and what they can expect from the treatment. The process itself is very easy and takes less than a month. Treatment starts with the first day of the cycle, the woman starts taking medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce enough eggs. This takes around 10-12 days, the medication is usually by injection and on day 12, the egg retrieval happens. This procedure takes around 10 -15 minutes and it is not painful because it is done under sedation. After the egg retrieval, eggs will go to the lab, they choose the good (matured) eggs to freeze and the process ends. The process is easy for the patient, it is not painful. There might be some level of discomfort but after the egg retrieval, they can take nolotil or any other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Fertility preservation for men is not painful at all, they only need a few samples by masturbation, so they don’t need medication.

About this question:

Egg freezing - the process and timeline

Learn what the process of egg freezing looks like. The preparation, tests, egg retrieval and the freezing procedure.

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