Answer from: Melvin H. Thornton, Associate Professor
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: Ioannis Zervomanolakis, PhD
Egg freezing - the process and timeline
Learn what the process of egg freezing looks like. The preparation, tests, egg retrieval and the freezing procedure.