Embarking on the path of family planning is an exciting journey filled with hope and, often, uncertainty. One area that typically gives rise to a multitude of questions revolves around oocyte cryopreservation, commonly known as egg freezing. While this medical breakthrough has provided countless women with greater reproductive autonomy, it's still not a definitive guarantee of biological motherhood.
In this guide, we’ll try and answer one of the most common questions around egg freezing: the chances of live birth.
From frozen eggs to baby
At every stage of the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process (which is technically what egg freezing is, plus embryo fertilization in a lab), there's a certain level of attrition. Some collected eggs may be immature, making them unsuitable for freezing. Others may not withstand the thawing process. When you’re ready to fertilize those eggs into embryos, they will not necessarily all fertilize, and some fertilized embryos may fail to mature into viable embryos suitable for transfer. Even embryos that reach the transfer stage might not be genetically normal. And those that are genetically normal may not result in a viable pregnancy or live birth.
As a result, egg freezing is better viewed as a way to increase your chances of pregnancy down the line, rather than an insurance policy or a surefire plan. It’s a path filled with potential, and definitely gives you greater optionality when you’re ready to have kids, but — and we are always very transparent about this — there is unfortunately no absolute promise of a live birth at the end of the egg freezing process.
How many eggs should I freeze?
Given these complexities, a pressing question for many women is, “how many eggs should I freeze to increase my chances of having a baby?” The answer is nuanced and largely depends on two variables: the age at which the eggs are frozen, and how many children you want.
Unfortunately, the quality of eggs can't be assessed before fertilization is attempted, adding another layer of uncertainty to this equation. Still, we can provide an approximate guide based on averages, which can inform individualized counseling, treatment planning, and expectation management.
One study out of Harvard Medical School of 520 cycles found the chances of live birth varies based on age and number of eggs frozen (see chart below). This guidance is not precise, but offers an approximate benchmark to guide you through your fertility journey.
How many eggs will I get?
Another common inquiry from patients is how many eggs are likely to be retrieved and preserved in a single egg freezing cycle. The good news is that this is fairly easy for fertility doctors to predict using two crucial measures: anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) and antral follicle count (AFC).
AMH and AFC, both estimators of ovarian reserve, can provide an approximation of the number of eggs that can be retrieved from a stimulated cycle. For instance, an AMH level of 15 pmol/L (2.1 ng/mL) could predict a yield of approximately 12 to 18 eggs. Similarly, AFC's numerical value directly correlates with the number of eggs potentially collected in one cycle, with a rough ratio of 1:1. So if your fertility doctor counts 15 antral follicles during the transvaginal ultrasound, you could potentially retrieve 15 eggs in a single cycle (note this number could be lower or higher based on other factors).
Will I have enough eggs to share?
Cofertility’s Split program offers women a chance to freeze their eggs *for free* when donating half of the eggs retrieved to a family who cannot otherwise conceive. If you qualify for the program and decide to donate half of your retrieved eggs, every expense associated with the egg freezing procedure — medications, supplements, travel if necessary, insurance, and 10 years of storage — are completely free of charge.
Since the number of eggs is predictable with AMH and AFC, we’re only able to accept people into the program if we are confident they would have enough eggs to “split”.
You can look at the probabilities and hormonal indicators, but everyone’s egg freezing journey is unique. Age, health, lifestyle, and genetic factors can all play a role in your path to motherhood. Remember, egg freezing is a science, but it's not an exact one. The uncertainties are part of the process. And while the prospect of attrition can seem daunting, it's important to remember that every step forward is a step closer to the potential for success.
Navigating these complexities can feel overwhelming, which is why support and guidance are crucial. At Cofertility, our mission is to guide you through this journey, providing you with the necessary information, support, and encouragement to make the best decisions for your fertility future.
Although egg freezing can't offer guaranteed outcomes, it has undoubtedly provided hundreds of thousands of women worldwide with expanded options and increased flexibility in their reproductive timelines. By understanding the process's intricacies and setting realistic expectations, we can navigate this journey together, with optimism, resilience, and hope.
Freeze your eggs with Cofertility
Cofertility is a human-first, tech-enabled fertility ecosystem that provides people agency over if, how, and when they have babies — today or someday. We have two programs for egg freezers:
Our Split program offers women a chance to freeze their eggs for free when donating half of the eggs retrieved to a family who cannot otherwise conceive. If you qualify for the program and decide to donate half of your retrieved eggs, every expense associated with the egg freezing procedure — medications, supplements, travel if necessary, insurance, and 10 years of storage — are completely free of charge. We don’t even need a payment or credit card up front, as the family you match with covers all the expenses.
Our self-pay Keep program allows women to freeze their eggs and keep them all for their future use. Through Keep, we offer our members partnerships and discounts to lighten the financial load of egg freezing, as well as access to our member community.
The benefits for of working with Cofertility include:
- Power of choice: Freeze your eggs more affordably or, if you qualify, freeze for free when you give half to a family who can’t otherwise conceive.
- Community: Our inclusive online spaces allow you to connect with others going through the process in our private online community.
- Compassion: We’ll always treat you with care, and our Split program gives you the opportunity to make someone’s family building dreams a reality.
- Data-driven: We provide you with trustworthy guidance and evidence-based research so you can make informed decisions about your fertility.
- Free egg freezing: Freeze and store your eggs for 10 years, entirely for free if you qualify for our Split program.
Ready to learn about more affordable (even free!) egg freezing with Cofertility? Fill out this quick quiz to learn about our accessible egg freezing options and see if you qualify for our programs — it only takes one minute.