See if you qualify for free egg freezing.
Photo of an adult hand holding a baby hand

Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is a process where a woman's eggs are retrieved, frozen, and stored for later use. This allows women to preserve their eggs at their current age, potentially increasing their chances of having a biological child in the future.

Egg freezing is becoming more and more common, with a 30% increase in egg-freezing cycles from 2021 to 2022 alone! 

I’m Dr. Meera Shah, a double-board certified OBGYN and Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI). I have helped countless women freeze their eggs as a fertility doctor and as a Medical Advisor to Cofertility. This article is a guide to everything you need to know to make a confident, informed decision about egg freezing.

Why people choose to freeze their eggs

There are many reasons why women opt for egg freezing. Here are some of the most common reasons we hear:

  • Focusing on other priorities: Women focusing on career or personal goals can freeze their eggs until they're ready to start a family.
  • Waiting for the right partner: As the average age of first marriage continues to rise, some women choose to freeze their eggs instead of rushing into a marriage.
  • Medical reasons: Women facing medical conditions or treatments that could impact fertility, such as chemotherapy or radiation, can freeze their eggs before undergoing these treatments.
  • Genetic predisposition: Women with a family history of early menopause may choose to freeze their eggs to ensure they have viable eggs for future use.
  • Peace of mind: Some women simply want the peace of mind knowing they have a backup plan for their fertility.

At what age should you freeze your eggs?

There is no perfect age at which to freeze your eggs. However, the younger you can do it, the better. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), an optimal time to freeze your eggs is in your 20s and early 30s, while you have a higher ovarian reserve and eggs are healthier. 

A large 2020 study at a fertility clinic that specializes in this area looked at egg freezing cycles for over 1,200 people. It compared the average number of eggs people of different ages were able to freeze versus the “optimal” or goal number of eggs they should freeze. This goal number was based on how many eggs would give them a 70% live birth rate after doing 1 or 2 egg freezing cycles (this rate is calculated using some other numbers and it typically goes up as we age to make up for the lower number of healthy eggs). 

The study found that younger people, unsurprisingly, have an easier time freezing the goal number of eggs in one cycle. As people aged, they needed multiple egg freezing cycles to reach that goal number.

Read more in What’s the Best Age to Freeze My Eggs?

Is it worth freezing eggs after age 35?

The findings from the study above bring up a common question–is it worth freezing eggs after age 35? Well, it depends. The ASRM does not recommend egg freezing for people older than 38, but this isn’t a strict cutoff. 

Your biological clock is not a cliff. Everyone’s fertility decreases down at a different rate. Having your fertility hormones checked can sometimes help you and your doctor get a general idea of your ovarian reserve and chance of a future pregnancy. This can better help you decide if egg freezing is right for you.

Egg freezing success rates by age

Success rates with egg freezing depend on a lot of factors: your health, your ovarian reserve, your response to egg freezing medication, and the quality of the clinic. That being said, generally, younger women have higher success rates due to better egg quantity and quality. 

A study of 1,241 women found that the average number of eggs retrieved on the first egg freezing round was:

  • 21 eggs for women under 35
  • 17 eggs for women 35-37
  • 14 eggs for women 38-40

Because women in their 30s tend to produce less eggs, at this age you may end up having to either settle for fewer eggs for freezing or undergo multiple rounds to collect enough eggs to have on hand for later implantation. As you can imagine, those costs can creep higher and higher the more rounds you endure. 

Now, you might be thinking: isn’t 14 eggs a lot?  It’s true that eggs retrieved from women under the age of 36 will have a 95 percent survival rate after being thawed.  But, not all thawed eggs will become viable embryos and lead to a live birth. The probability of a live birth varies with the age of the woman trying to conceive and the number of mature eggs available. In short, the older the woman, the more eggs required to achieve a high probability of a live birth. 

A study in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics further supports this point. For example, a woman under 35 will need nine eggs to achieve a 70% chance of having at least one live birth. If you’re trying to conceive in your mid to late 30s, you may need double as many eggs to achieve that same 70% success rate. 

The right number of eggs to freeze for your age

Different folks have different reasons for freezing their eggs. Some may be thinking about prolonging their fertility into the future. Others may be freezing some eggs but also hoping to donate some eggs to help others grow a family — something that’s done via our Split program, where you freeze for free when donating half of the eggs to a family that can’t otherwise conceive. 

Either way, studies have found that the optimal number of eggs to freeze really comes down to your age. That’s because the number of eggs in the body isn’t the only thing to decrease as you get older — egg quality decreases too, and egg quality is the number one factor in determining whether an egg can eventually result in a live birth. 

Here are the number of eggs you’ll want to freeze based on your age in order to obtain an optimal live birth rate:

Should I do multiple egg retrievals?

What happens if you don’t get as many eggs as you had hoped during your egg retrieval cycle? 

If you’ve undergone one round of egg freezing and the number of eggs your reproductive endocrinologist retrieved from your ovaries wasn’t as high as you’d hoped, you may want to talk to them about trying again. A fertility specialist can help you talk through all of your options.

There is technically no limit to the number of egg freezing rounds a person can undergo, but it’s not recommended that egg donors undergo more than six cycles. If you’re hoping to split your eggs with intended parents (donating half of the eggs retrieved) as part of our Split Program, you may find that additional retrievals help you provide the optimal amount of eggs for a live birth for you and for the intentend parents too. 

The right number of eggs to freeze to have multiple children

If you’re planning to have a big family one day, you may want to look at the number of eggs it’s recommended you freeze to achieve one live birth and talk to your Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI) about freezing more eggs. 

As we shared above, a woman under age 35 will need to freeze about nine eggs to achieve a 70% chance of a successful pregnancy and live birth. If you’re under age 35 now and thinking you might want to use frozen eggs to conceive twice in your future, you will want to freeze closer to 18 eggs.

The number of eggs necessary will increase with your age at time of the retrieval, and the number of children you hope to have via those eggs. 

Can frozen eggs guarantee a successful pregnancy in the future?

When trying to decide if you should freeze your eggs, it’s important to know that egg freezing is not an “insurance policy” for your fertility. While egg freezing can take some of the stress of having a baby right now off your shoulders, it is not a guarantee that you’ll have a baby in the future. 

Why not? Well, for one, not all the eggs that get frozen will actually be viable. It’s expected that some eggs will not survive the warming process when it comes time to use the eggs. In addition, the chances of the eggs that do survive being successfully fertilized depends on a variety of factors, including how old you were when you froze them (more on this later). 

This is not to sway your decision one way or another. Ultimately, only you and your doctor can decide if egg freezing is the right decision for you. But it's important to go in knowing that it’s not meant to be a done deal. As egg freezing has gotten more popular, many companies will gloss over this fact. We don't think that's right and want to be straight with you from the outset.

Freezing your eggs when you’re unsure if you want kids

Perhaps the biggest benefit of egg freezing is that it puts the decision-making power entirely in your hands. Whether you’re freezing your eggs because you want to focus on your career or you’re about to undergo medical treatment that may affect your fertility later on, or you’re waiting to find the right partner, freezing your eggs allows you to preserve some of your fertility independently. 

While you might not be sure about having kids today, if you do decide you want kids down the road, especially if you’re in your mid- to late-thirties, having eggs on ice will increase the chances that you’re able to do so.

Know this: most people do not regret their egg retrieval procedure. We looked at five studies on egg freezing. The rates of regret reported in these studies varied, likely due to the sample size, study design, and the follow-up period. However, taken together, these studies suggest that the vast majority of those who freeze their eggs have zero regrets.

There also appear to be factors that reduce the chances of regret, including feeling fully informed beforehand, and getting adequate support during the egg freezing process. In other words, if you take the time to think things through and feel supported throughout the journey, you’re less likely to regret making this decision for yourself.

The egg freezing process: step-by-step

The egg freezing process is about a two-week journey. You will work closely with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (fertility doctor) and the clinic team throughout the process. 

Here's a detailed breakdown of what you can expect from start to finish, and beyond:

  1. Ovarian stimulation: You'll take hormone medications to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs, and have multiple monitoring appointments and blood tests to see how the eggs are maturing.
  2. Egg retrieval: Your eggs will be retrieved through a minor surgical procedure using ultrasound guidance.
  3. Vitrification: Your eggs will be rapidly frozen using a technique called vitrification, which helps preserve their quality.
  4. Storage: Your frozen eggs will be stored in a secure facility until you're ready to use them.
  5. Thawing and fertilization: When you're ready to conceive, your eggs will be thawed, fertilized with sperm (either your partner's or a donor's), and transferred to your uterus.

Will egg freezing hurt my future fertility?

Egg freezing actually rescues all the other eggs that your body would otherwise allow to die during a normal menstrual cycle. So the process of egg freezing doesn’t take anything away from your egg reserve, it actually helps you save some extra eggs! And since during each cycle, your body goes through the ovulation process again with a new set of competing eggs, your chances of getting pregnant unassisted in the future also aren’t affected by egg freezing. 

What egg freezing does do is give you additional options for if and when you’re ready to start growing your family.

Is egg freezing safe?

Like any other procedure, there are risks and side effects when freezing eggs, including risks of anesthesia, bleeding, pain, and infection. Thankfully, the majority of people who go through with it deal with side effects for a few days at most. When it comes to the ovaries themselves, they generally recover quickly. The overall data indicate that the potential risks of surgical complications from egg retrieval are generally very small. However, in people with a history of endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, pelvic adhesions or previous pelvic surgery, the risks are slightly increased so make sure to speak to your doctor about your medical history if you fall into any of these categories.

Egg freezing vs embryo freezing 

There’s one major difference between freezing eggs and freezing embryos. When you freeze your eggs, they stay unfertilized. We all know that to make a baby, you need an egg and a sperm because each of them provides half of the material needed. On its own, an egg can’t function (and neither can a sperm).

An embryo, on the other hand, is an egg that has already been fertilized by a sperm. Once they combine, the egg and sperm become a single cell. Over the next three to four days, the embryo divides several times, going from one to two to four to eight cells, and so on until it reaches the blastocyst stage and is ready to be frozen. Once an embryo has developed, there’s no going back– that is, there’s no way to turn that embryo back into a separate egg and sperm. 

If you don’t know who you want to have children with, then freezing your eggs may be the best approach. This option gives you the freedom to hold off on thinking about having a baby until you’ve met someone or are ready to choose a sperm donor. 

On the other hand, if you are currently with a partner who you know you’d like to have children with but now isn’t the right time, then frozen embryos might be the way to go with the goal of a future embryo transfer. The caveat here is to be 100% certain—stars like Sofia Vergara and more recently, Anna Kendrick, have run into trouble after freezing embryos with partners they didn’t end up with. 

Read more in Should I Freeze Eggs or Embryos?

Cost of egg freezing

The question of how much does it cost to freeze your eggs will come down to a few factors. These include the number of cycles you undergo to retrieve eggs and how long you keep the eggs in storage. Overall, the typical egg freezing can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 for one cycle plus the cost of storage fees.

Another option? Freeze by Co offers women a chance to freeze their eggs for free when they donate half of the retrieved eggs to a family that can’t otherwise conceive. The cost of the entire process, including 10 years of cryopreservation, is fully covered — we think it’s a win-win. 

Or, if you want to freeze and store your eggs for your own future use without donating, Freeze by Co offers lower prices on things like consultations and storage, along with access to our community of freezers. ‍We partner with lenders, like Sunfish, to offer you fertility financial resources.

Learn more about egg sharing

Egg sharing programs exist worldwide to help make fertility care more accessible. Egg sharing is when a woman undergoes an egg retrieval, and some of the resulting eggs are donated to a family that can’t otherwise conceive.

In Cofertility’s Split program, women can freeze their eggs for free when they donate half of the retrieved eggs to a family who can’t otherwise conceive. 

Ask us anything

If you’d like help figuring out when to freeze your eggs, you can contact us for more information. While every woman’s fertility preservation path differs, we can connect you with reputable clinics who can offer basic guidance about when the time is right for you to freeze your eggs during a consultation or dig into specifics by going through a preliminary exam in a provider’s office.

We understand that the timing may not be right for you to start a family right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about what choices will be available to you when that time comes. As you can see, a lot goes into preparing for an egg retrieval process.  The earlier you consider your fertility, the more options you’ll have. 

Whether you decide to freeze or not, we’re here for you to answer any questions or talk through any concerns.