According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), a woman’s peak fertility years are from their late teens to their late 20s. While these may be the easiest biological years for starting a family, between travel, work, school, life…at that point in your life, family planning might not be your top priority.
Fortunately, thanks to modern medicine, you have some options. Egg freezing allows you to preserve your healthy eggs at any point in time, without committing to starting a family. Let's talk about what you need to know about freezing your eggs.
Here’s what you need to know about the process
While there are some big hurdles to clear—like the expenses of going through the process and how (and where) you’ll store your eggs—freezing your eggs is a way to take more control of your future fertility health.
That being said, it’s important that you think of freezing your eggs not as a guarantee, but rather, a proactive step you can take towards fulfilling potential long-term family planning goals. It is not an insurance policy, but it can help give you more options in the future.
Research has found that freezing nine eggs while under age 35 leads to a 70% chance of a live birth (studies found that the average number of eggs retrieved for the same women is 18-21). And the more eggs you freeze, the better those odds get. There are always chances that your retrieval could fail, or that implantation down the line may not take. Still, egg freezing in your 20s does offer higher chances of success than having them retrieved at a later age.
Getting ready for retrieval
Before you can freeze your eggs, you’ll want to ensure your body is producing as many eggs as possible. This means taking hormones that can help stimulate the follicles on your ovaries to produce a larger than normal quantity of eggs.
According to the Mayo Clinic, this may include taking multiple medications or injectables like:
- Ollitropin alfa or beta (Follistim AQ, Gonal-f)
- Menotropins (Menopur)
- Leuprolide acetate (Lupron Depot)
- Cetrorelix (Cetrotide)
Your doctor will monitor your progress with blood tests across the 10-14 day period. He or she will tweak any ovarian-stimulating medications you’re given to make sure your estrogen and progesterone levels are where they need to be for a successful retrieval.
During these visits, you’ll likely also have vaginal ultrasounds. The doctor will use this to check on the development of the follicles where your eggs mature. It might sound overwhelming, but vaginal ultrasounds are usually painless.
Then, when the time is right—typically 10 to 14 days after you’ve started your medications—you’ll check back in with your doctor and receive a final injection of something called a human chorionic gonadotropin. This is the final kick to help your eggs mature and prepare them for retrieval.
Retrieving your eggs
Retrieval is typically done while you’re under a light sedation at a fertility clinic. Your doctor will retrieve your eggs via vaginal ultrasound with suction to remove eggs from follicles. You’ll likely wake up feeling well rested while your medical team has done all of the heavy lifting for you!
While you won’t feel any pain during the procedure, a little soreness afterwards isn’t uncommon.
Freezing and monitoring
After your procedure your eggs undergo a process called vitrification (AKA: freezing). This process relies on subzero temperatures to cool the eggs for storage. They’re normally stored along with a substance (like liquid nitrogen) that keeps ice crystals from forming within the frozen eggs. They’re then placed in cold storage for 24/7 temperature monitoring.
You may be surprised to learn that your frozen eggs have no expiration date. In fact, in 2021 a child was born from an embryo frozen 25 years prior! Once your eggs have been successfully frozen they cease all biological activity, including aging and deterioration.
While some countries may have limits on the length of time your eggs can remain frozen, this has not taken hold in the United States. This comes as good news for women who are hoping to freeze their eggs earlier in life and may need more years of frozen storage.
Our Split program includes 10 years of free storage at a reputable long-term facility, where you'll have access to them whenever you choose to use them. Our Keep program also allows you to store your eggs for 10+ years, though note that the payment will be out of pocket each year.
How much does it cost?
A lot of women worry about the price tag for freezing their eggs. One piece of good news is that as technology (and availability) of these solutions advances, costs are starting to come down.
Still, you can be looking at a bill for a few thousand dollars for the procedure alone—anywhere between $6,000 to $11,000—plus an annual bill between $300-$1,200 for storage, and up to $5,000 for medications.
With Cofertility, however, we’ve worked with clinic partners to get you discounts on freezing (think: 75% off initial consults at certain clinics), storage (up to 80% off compared to reputable clinic freezing), and medications (about a 20% savings).
For those who qualify, our Split program also offers the opportunity to freeze your eggs for free if you donate half of them to a family who can’t otherwise conceive. Yep, zero dollars.
Split allows you to take control of your reproductive future (while offsetting the costs), and enables you to give someone else the greatest gift of all: a shot at parenthood. But at the end of the day, our mission is to empower women with reproductive choice. If you decide that freezing isn’t for you, we respect that. And most of all, we applaud you for taking this step towards exploring your options and learning more about your own fertility.