As someone who did fertility treatments for three years to get pregnant – including six rounds of IVF, I know all too well the struggle of wanting to be pregnant and it not happening. I have PCOS so my chances of conceiving naturally are very low. I wish I had been told this in my early 20s when I first started speaking with a gynecologist about my irregular periods. I had all the symptoms of PCOS and yet wasn’t diagnosed until I started to struggle conceiving. This is a true travesty because had I been told over a decade ago, I would have frozen my eggs and I am sure I would have not spend YEARS trying to conceive.
That doesn’t mean egg freezing is the right choice for everyone, however.
I spoke with Claire O’Neil, who founded FertilitySpace in 2020 with the aim of using fertility industry data to help women find the best fertility provider for their unique goals and make informed decisions while navigating the world of fertility treatment, about all there is to know about egg freezing.
You may have to do more than one round of egg freezing to get the number of eggs you want
“When you set a plan with your doctor for how many children you’d like to have, they’ll give a range of eggs they recommend you freeze in order to meet those goals.
The number of eggs you get from a cycle is totally unique to the person and how you respond to the fertility medications. Most young women will be able to freeze enough eggs from one egg freezing cycle while others may need to do two or even three rounds before they’re happy with the number of eggs they have frozen.
A helpful study from Extend Fertility, a fertility clinic in New York, gave some numbers that might be useful when looking into how many eggs you should aim to freeze. For women younger than 34, freezing 9 eggs was estimated to give a 70% chance of a live birth when using these eggs to get pregnant in the future. The study found that roughly 3 out of 4 women (74%) reached the optimal threshold in just one round of egg freezing.
So make sure you discuss with your doctor what your unique family-building goals are for the future so that they can properly counsel you and set a goal for the number of eggs you should aim to freeze.”
Not every egg leads to a baby
“This is so important to understand. If you freeze 10 eggs, that is not 10 babies. Depending on your unique fertility status, that could be any number of babies from 0 to 10.
When you thaw these eggs in the future to try to get pregnant, some eggs may not survive the thaw, some eggs will not fertilize, and then some embryos will not develop correctly.
There’s a funnel essentially, so it’s best to freeze as many eggs as possible in order to have a successful pregnancy in the future.”
Just because you freeze your eggs doesn’t mean you have to use them to get pregnant
“Egg freezing is such a wonderful tool that women are now given in order to preserve their fertility and allow them more flexibility in their life and family goals. But for anyone who’s nervous about freezing their eggs, it’s good to know that just because you put some eggs on ice doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant naturally when you do decide to have a child.
Studies on egg freezing have shown that it does not impact a woman’s fertility, so while it’s a great option to have, you’re not eliminating the option to try to conceive naturally in the future if you want to.”
If you do need help getting pregnant in the future, freezing your eggs now can save you time & money
“If we do the math, freezing your eggs now can save you time to pregnancy and money in the process. The reason is that if you do end up needing to undergo IVF to get pregnant, using eggs from when you were younger gives you a much higher success rate of conceiving compared to using your eggs when you’re older at the time of treatment.
Let’s say you freeze your eggs when you’re 27 and it costs you $10,000 to do so. When you’re ready to use those eggs, it might cost another $10,000 to thaw, fertilize and transfer an embryo. Women younger than 35 have a 52.7% chance of a live birth from an IVF cycle.
If you instead start IVF when you’re 38 and are retrieving eggs at this time, your chance of a live birth is much lower, being 24.4% per cycle. So you may need to do twice the number of rounds of IVF compared to having used eggs you had frozen when you were 27. And at roughly $20-25k per IVF cycle, that’s a lot of extra money you’d be paying and more time undergoing treatment.”
There are affordable ways to freeze your eggs
“When you’re younger and still early on in your career, the prospect of paying thousands of dollars to freeze your eggs may seem unattainable.
But just in the past few years, so much awareness is cropping up about fertility preservation and infertility that there are more options available to women to help them afford treatment.
Insurance coverage for egg freezing is becoming more common amongst employers, payment plans are offered by some fertility clinics, and some clinics have an egg donation program where they will give you a free round of egg freezing if you’re willing to also do a separate round in which you donate eggs to a patient who is having difficulty conceiving.
If your goal is to freeze your eggs, they are definitely ways to get it done. You can check out clinics that offer egg freezing in your area at FertilitySpace and reach out to them to get more information on how they can make it work for you.”