More and more people are freezing their eggs; in fact, in 2021 we saw a 46% increase in egg freezing cycles in the United States. If you’re exploring egg freezing, you may have a lot of questions, including if you can stay on birth control or not. In this article, we will discuss how birth control works and answer common questions about egg freezing while on various types of birth control.
How birth control works
Birth control methods work in various ways to prevent pregnancy. Hormonal methods, such as the pill, patch, ring, and injection, regulate hormones in the body to prevent ovulation. Without ovulation, there is no egg available for fertilization.
Non-hormonal methods, such as condoms, diaphragms, and intrauterine devices (IUDs), physically prevent sperm from reaching the egg or alter the environment in the uterus to prevent implantation. IUDs can be either hormonal or non-hormonal, depending on the type.
If you are freezing your eggs, do not start or stop your current birth control regimen without talking to your fertility doctor.
Can I freeze my eggs while on the pill?
You will need to stop taking the pill before the actual egg freezing cycle. That’s because hormonal birth control is intended to prevent ovulation, but during freezing you want to do exactly the opposite. Some doctors will have you stop during your egg freezing cycle, and some may have you stop for the month leading up to the retrieval.
The irony is that in preparation for an egg freezing cycle, the birth control pill is commonly prescribed for two to three weeks to sync your cycle and reduce the chance of inducing a cyst from the ovulation follicle. It can also help synchronize the cohort of follicles for a more optimal response. So if you’re not on the pill, you may be prescribed birth control pills with the start of the menstrual cycle in which you plan to undergo the egg freezing cycle.
Can I freeze my eggs while on Depo-Provera?
Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate) is an injection that contains a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone. Since this shot can interfere with hormonal medications, you You may have to wait up to three to six months after the last shot until your ovaries are in an optimal state to be stimulated.
While Depo-Provera can affect the timing of ovulation, it does not impact the number or quality of eggs that are retrieved during the egg freezing process.
Can I freeze my eggs with an IUD?
Yes! Unlike other forms of birth control, IUDs do not prevent ovulation and therefore will not get in the way of stimulating egg production during your freezing cycle. If you have an IUD, there’s no need to remove it before your cycle. Although if you’ve been meaning to take it out, ask the doctor if they can do it during your procedure.
Can I freeze my eggs with Nexplanon (birth control implant)?
Nexplanon is a small rod that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm and contains a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone. It can remain in place and does not appear to impact the number or quality of eggs that are retrieved during the egg freezing process.
Can I freeze my eggs with the patch?
Like the pill, the patch contains synthetic hormones that regulate the body's natural hormone levels and prevent ovulation. In order to begin an egg freezing cycle, you will need to remove the patch.
Can I freeze my eggs with NuvaRing?
The NuvaRing is a vaginal hormonal birth control ring. Because it’s using hormones to prevent ovulation, like the pill and the patch, you will need to remove the NuvaRing before your cycle. However, your fertility doctor will give you instructions and there’s no need to remove it until they tell you to.
Why is my doctor prescribing birth control to freeze my eggs?!
While it may seem counterintuitive, many fertility doctors recommend or prescribe birth control at the beginning of the egg freezing process. There are several reasons why:
- To coordinate the timing of stimulation start. Hormonal birth control pills can be used to offset the menstrual cycle to help facilitate the best timing for your cycle with your clinic/lab.
- To reduce the likelihood of ovarian cysts. Birth control pills may help to suppress the growth of ovarian cysts, which can interfere with the egg retrieval process.
So while it may seem counterintuitive, using birth control pills before egg freezing is pretty typical.
Summing it up
Hormonal birth control methods work by regulating hormones in the body to prevent ovulation, while non-hormonal methods physically prevent sperm from reaching the egg or alter the environment in the uterus to prevent implantation. While it is possible to freeze your eggs while on various types of birth control, it depends on which one.
- Definitely okay: condoms, diaphragms
- Generally okay: IUD, birth control implant
- Need to stop: the pill, the patch, NuvaRing
- Potential wait of three-six months: Depo-Provera
Of course, do not start or stop your current birth control regimen without talking to your fertility doctor first.
Freeze your eggs with Cofertility
Cofertility is in the “family” business, striving to make egg freezing and third-party reproduction more human-centered and accessible for all. Our Freeze by Co program allows you to freeze your eggs for free when you give half of the eggs retrieved to a family who can't otherwise conceive.