Whether you’re a professional with little time or are using a surrogate — freezing your eggs empowers you to have your child when the time is right for you.
Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is the process of collecting and preserving a woman’s eggs. These eggs can then be used at a later date by the woman herself or by a surrogate carrier.
We know that if you’re considering freezing your eggs there can be a lot of information to sift through. So we’ve answered the 12 most commonly asked questions to help you on your path to parenthood.
#1 What are the benefits of egg freezing?
The most commonly cited benefit of egg freezing… is time.
One of the most common areas for fertility issues is in egg quality, which is highly associated with age. As a woman ages, so do her eggs, which can affect their health and viability for conception and a successful pregnancy. Specifically, after 32 years old, fertility begins decreasing at a rapid rate. After 40, it becomes much more difficult for women to conceive using their own eggs.
By freezing your eggs, you preserve the quality of your eggs (and their potential for conception). This can vastly improve your chances of having a child later on in life when you feel ready and excited to have a child.
With egg freezing, you give yourself more time to do… well, whatever you like. Whether you want more time to build your finances or simply want more time for yourself before welcoming a child into your life — egg freezing gives you that time, and the freedom to have your child on your schedule, not your body’s.
Additionally, egg freezing is often essential to gestational surrogacy, which means it helps provide opportunities for male individuals or same-sex couples to build their own families.
#2 Who is egg freezing for?
Egg freezing is for anyone who wants to preserve their egg quality to increase the likelihood of successful conception, pregnancy, and delivery in the future.
Egg freezing may be right for you if you want:
More time to finish your degree or build your career
More time to build financial stability and resources for your child
To wait till you’re with the right partner (and not feeling rushed to settle)
More time to work on and find yourself
To preserve eggs prior to chemotherapy
To preserve egg quality before beginning a medication cycle that could have negative effects
To preserve healthy eggs in case of progressive fertility disorders
To use your eggs with a surrogate carrier
To have a child on your own timeline, not your body’s.
#3 When is the best time to freeze your eggs?
There is no best time to freeze eggs, just as there is no guarantee that eggs frozen at any one age will ensure a successful pregnancy and delivery. Age is a big factor in the quality and quantity of eggs. So generally, the younger the better. Peak fertility occurs in a woman’s twenties up through age 32, after which it begins to decline substantially.
That being said, the best time to freeze your eggs is right now. If you think you might want a child in the future, but want more time to decide, freezing your eggs affords you that time, without lowering your odds of having your child in the future.
#4 How does egg freezing work and what’s the surgical procedure like?
After testing to review egg qualities and quantities, doctors will typically begin by prescribing hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce a higher number of eggs than the one normally produced during the menstrual cycle. This first stage is typically referred to as ovarian stimulation.
Around this time, your fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist may suggest blood tests and ultrasounds to check your health and the health of your ovaries.
Next comes egg retrieval. Using in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques, your physician will gently extract the eggs. This is a mild surgical procedure that is considered low risk. At this point, you may opt to have your eggs screened using pre-genetic testing (PGT), which analyzes the collected eggs for abnormalities that could lead to birth defects or decreased odds of success in a future pregnancy.
The day of collection, your eggs will undergo a flash freezing process called vitrification. According to current research, the survival rate of eggs when being warmed up again after vitrification ranges between 84% and 96.7%. 
Some time after collection, your doctor will follow-up to make sure you’re doing okay and to look out for symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This syndrome will typically resolve itself and severe OHSS occurs in roughly 1.4% of women who undergo IVF cycles. 
#5 How long does the egg freezing procedure take?
From ovarian stimulation medication to egg retrieval, the egg freezing process takes between 10 to 14 days per cycle.
#6 How long can you store frozen eggs?
Depending on where you look, you’ll find varying answers to this question. Because of cryopreservation, eggs can essentially be stored forever. The flash freezing process ensures minimal damage to the egg and preserves its quality for later use. That being said, many women typically use their frozen eggs within five to ten years.
#7 How many eggs should you store?
Most fertility specialists will recommend you preserve between 10-15 eggs per intended attempt at conception later on. However, this recommendation may shift depending on your age at the time of collection. If you are older, you may be advised to undergo multiple egg retrieval cycles to collect enough healthy eggs free from defects.
Women under the age of 35 can usually expect to produce between 10-15 eggs per IVF cycle, with age negatively impacting this number. Women over 35 may find they need additional cycles of ovarian stimulation to produce enough eggs for freezing.
#8 How much does egg freezing and storage cost?
On average, one cycle of egg freezing costs in the range of $6,000 to $20,000, with higher-end facilities potentially exceeding this. This excludes the cost of storage, which typically comes in the form of a yearly fee, and ranges from $500 to $1,000 each year.
#9 What is the success rate for egg freezing?
First and foremost, egg freezing is a low-risk procedure that generally leads to high rates of success in thawing the eggs. Studies place the thawing survival rate of eggs at about 90%. 
Researchers from the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine studied nearly 37,000 IVF attempts recorded by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Of those attempts, 8,381 (22.7%) used frozen eggs and 28,544 (77.3%) used fresh eggs. These researchers found fresh eggs resulted in a 2% advantage in implantation, pregnancy, and live births. 
#10 What’s the difference between egg freezing and embryo freezing?
You may be wondering whether there’s a difference in pregnancy rates between egg and embryo freezing. The distinction between an egg and an embryo is small, but powerful. An egg, or oocyte, is a single cell surrounded by liquid. An embryo refers to a fertilized egg where the single cell has multiplied into a collection of cells.
There are a few things to consider here. First, choosing embryo freezing means you are freezing an already fertilized egg. For women who don’t have a partner or aren’t ready to choose from a sperm bank, egg freezing can provide more options for the future.
That being said, there is a slight advantage to freezing embryos over freezing eggs. Because eggs are a single cell surrounded by liquid, they are marginally more fragile and sensitive to the flash freezing process than embryos. Research suggests roughly 95% of frozen embryos survive the thawing process, versus roughly 90% of frozen eggs. 
#11 What happens when I’m ready to have a child?
Once you feel ready to begin the journey to parenthood, you’ll first consult with IMA ART and your fertility specialist to determine your next steps. If you’re working with a surrogate, we will help you match with a gestational surrogate before warming your eggs. If you intend to carry your child yourself, our physician will run tests to ensure your health prior to egg thawing.
When ready, your eggs will be thawed and prepared for fertilization. There are two options when it comes to fertilization: traditional IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Once fertilized, the egg will be transferred back into your or the surrogate’s uterus, where it will hopefully implant and lead to a healthy pregnancy.
#12 So, is egg freezing right for you?
Ultimately, the choice comes down to you. If you know you want to have a child using your genetic material in the future when the time is right for you, egg freezing offers you a path to fertility preservation that can increase your odds of conception at a later date. Additionally, if you plan on using a surrogate or egg donor, egg freezing will likely feature as a part of your journey as well.
If you’re unsure whether egg freezing is right for you, it’s best to consult with your fertility specialist who may recommend a transvaginal ultrasound to check on the quality and quantity of your egg reserves.
Ready to begin the journey of a lifetime?
We at IMA ART pride ourselves in offering world class fertility concierge services. We’ll set up every appointment, coordinate between your physicians, help you find the perfect surrogate, and more. If you’re looking for the best in reproductive medicine, insurance, and legal support — send us a message. We’d love to help you welcome your heir into the world.