Egg Freezing: Process, Side Effects, Cost and Age Limit

by | Apr 4, 2023 | Fertility

What is Egg Freezing?

Egg Freezing

Egg Freezing

Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is a cutting-edge medical procedure that allows women to preserve their fertility by freezing and storing their eggs for future use. In essence, it’s like hitting the pause button on your biological clock. This innovative technology has been a game-changer for countless women, providing them with the freedom to pursue personal, professional, and educational goals without the constant worry of a ticking biological clock. But who needs egg freezing, and how does the preparation process work? Let’s dive into the details.

Who Needs Egg Freezing?

Delaying Parenthood

Are you considering delaying parenthood to focus on your career or education? Egg freezing might be the right choice for you. As women age, the quality and quantity of their eggs decrease, leading to potential fertility issues later on. By preserving eggs at a younger age, women can boost their chances of having a healthy pregnancy when they’re ready to start a family.

Medical Conditions and Treatments

Do you have a medical condition or require treatment that may negatively impact your fertility? Egg freezing can offer peace of mind and the possibility of future pregnancy. Medical issues such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or early menopause can make it more difficult for women to conceive. Additionally, cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can be harmful to the ovaries and compromise a woman’s fertility. By freezing their eggs before undergoing these treatments, women can preserve their reproductive potential.

Family History of Early Menopause

Is early menopause common in your family? If so, egg freezing may be a proactive option for preserving your fertility. Genetics play a significant role in the onset of menopause, and women with a family history of early menopause are more likely to experience it themselves. Freezing your eggs early can help ensure you have the opportunity to conceive when you’re ready.

 

Preparation for the Egg-Freezing: Initial Consultation and Screening

Ready to take the plunge? The first step in the egg-freezing process is a consultation with a fertility specialist. During this appointment, your doctor will assess your overall health, discuss your medical history, and perform a series of tests to evaluate your fertility. These tests may include blood work to measure hormone levels, an ultrasound to examine the ovaries, and possibly a genetic screening to identify any potential hereditary issues.

 

Egg Freezing Process:

Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, is an increasingly popular fertility preservation method that offers women the chance to extend their reproductive years. This innovative procedure involves several stages, including ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, and freezing. Let’s take a closer look at each step.

  1. Ovarian Stimulation: During this phase, fertility specialists administer hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries, encouraging them to produce multiple mature eggs. This process usually takes 10-12 days and requires regular monitoring to ensure proper egg development.
  2. Egg Retrieval: Once the eggs have matured, they are carefully retrieved from the ovaries in a minimally invasive procedure. This typically takes about 15-20 minutes and is performed under sedation.
  3. Egg Freezing and Storage; Following retrieval, the eggs are assessed for quality and then rapidly frozen using a technique called vitrification. The eggs are stored in a secure cryogenic facility until the woman is ready to use them for IVF treatment.

 

Success Rate of Egg Freezing in India:

The success rate of egg freezing is influenced by several factors, such as the woman’s age, egg quality, and the skill of the fertility clinic. In India, fertility clinics have made tremendous strides in recent years, adopting advanced techniques and state-of-the-art technology to improve success rates.

While specific success rates vary between clinics, studies have shown that the live birth rate for women using frozen eggs is around 30-60%. It’s important to remember that these statistics are not guaranteed, as individual circumstances may vary. However, the success rate of egg freezing in India is generally on par with global standards, making it a viable option for women seeking fertility preservation.

 

Risks of Egg Freezing:

While egg freezing is a valuable option for many women, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with the procedure. These risks include:

  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): OHSS is a rare but potentially serious side effect of the hormone injections used during ovarian stimulation. In severe cases, OHSS can cause rapid weight gain, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing. Fortunately, fertility specialists can minimize the risk of OHSS by carefully monitoring hormone levels and adjusting dosages as needed.
  • Damage to Eggs: Although vitrification has significantly reduced the likelihood of egg damage during freezing and thawing, there is still a small chance that some eggs may not survive the process. To minimize this risk, only high-quality eggs are selected for freezing, and expert embryologists closely monitor each step.
  • Infection and Bleeding: As with any medical procedure, there is a minimal risk of infection or bleeding during egg retrieval. However, these risks are generally low, and most women experience no complications.

 

Egg Freezing Side Effects:

While egg freezing is a relatively safe procedure, some women may experience side effects, including:

  • Hormonal Side Effects: The hormone injections used during ovarian stimulation can cause temporary side effects, such as mood swings, breast tenderness, and hot flashes. These symptoms typically subside once the injections are discontinued.
  • Discomfort During and After Egg Retrieval: Some women may experience mild discomfort or cramping during and after egg retrieval. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate these symptoms, and most women can return to their normal activities within a day or two.
  • Emotional Impact: The egg-freezing process can be emotionally challenging for some women, as it often involves confronting personal fears and anxieties related to fertility and future family planning. It’s important to have a strong support system in place and to communicate openly with your fertility specialist about your concerns and expectations.

 

Cost of Egg Freezing in India

Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, has emerged as a popular fertility preservation option for women in India. However, one of the primary concerns for many women considering this procedure is the cost. Let’s break down the expenses associated with egg freezing in India.

Factors Affecting Cost

The overall cost of egg freezing in India varies based on several factors, including:

  1. The fertility clinic’s location, reputation, and expertise
  2. The number of cycles required for egg retrieval
  3. The duration of egg storage

Breakdown of Expenses

Here’s a general overview of the costs involved in the egg-freezing process:

  1. Initial consultation and fertility tests: INR 15,000 – 25,000
  2. Ovarian stimulation medications: INR 75,000 – 1,50,000
  3. Egg retrieval procedure: INR 50,000 – 1,00,000
  4. Egg freezing and storage: INR 30,000 – 50,000 per year

Keep in mind that these figures are approximate and may vary depending on the clinic and individual circumstances. It’s important to research and consults with multiple fertility clinics to find the best fit for your needs and budget.

 

Egg Freezing Age Limit

When considering egg freezing, age plays a significant role in determining the procedure’s success. The quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs decline with age, affecting fertility and the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Optimal Age for Egg Freezing

The optimal age for egg freezing is generally considered to be in the late 20s to early 30s. During this time, a woman’s egg quality and quantity are still relatively high, increasing the likelihood of a successful pregnancy with frozen eggs in the future.

Age Limit Considerations

While there isn’t a strict age limit for egg freezing, fertility specialists often recommend that women consider the procedure before the age of 35. As women approach their late 30s and early 40s, the chances of a successful pregnancy using frozen eggs decrease.

Also Read: IVF with Donor Eggs

Is Freezing Eggs at 40 Possible?

Although the chances of success are lower, freezing eggs at 40 is still possible. Women in their late 30s and early 40s may choose to freeze their eggs for various reasons, including medical conditions or personal circumstances.

Success Rates for Women Over 40

For women over 40, the success rate of using frozen eggs for a successful pregnancy is lower than for younger women. Studies have shown that women aged 40 and above have a live birth rate of approximately 15-25% using frozen eggs.

Individual Factors

It’s essential to recognize that individual factors, such as overall health, lifestyle, and egg quality, can significantly impact the success of egg freezing at 40. Consulting with a fertility specialist can help determine whether the procedure is a viable option based on your unique circumstances.

How Long Can the Eggs Be Stored?

One common question about egg freezing is how long the eggs can be stored before they are no longer viable for use in IVF treatment.

Storage Duration and Viability

Thanks to advances in freezing technology, particularly the vitrification process, eggs can remain viable for many years. Some studies suggest that eggs can be stored for up to 10 years or even longer without a significant decline in quality.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

While the technology allows for long-term storage of frozen eggs, there may be legal and ethical considerations depending on the country or region. In India, there are currently no specific regulations limiting the duration of egg storage. However, it’s essential to discuss the storage duration with your fertility clinic and consider any potential legal or ethical implications.

Factors Affecting Egg Viability

The viability of frozen eggs can be influenced by several factors, including:

  1. The woman’s age at the time of freezing
  2. The quality of the eggs
  3. The skill and expertise of the fertility clinic and embryologist
  4. The freezing and thawing process

It’s important to choose a reputable fertility clinic with experience in egg freezing to maximize the chances of your eggs remaining viable for future use.

 

Conclusion:

Egg freezing has become an increasingly popular option for women in India, offering the opportunity to preserve fertility and extend their reproductive years. With success rates on par with global standards, the procedure is a viable option for those looking to delay parenthood or safeguard against potential fertility issues.

However, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks and side effects associated with egg freezing. OHSS, damage to eggs, and infection or bleeding are some risks, while hormonal side effects, discomfort during and after egg retrieval, and emotional impact are potential side effects. By understanding these aspects of the procedure, women can make an informed decision about whether egg freezing is the right choice for them.

The cost of the procedure can vary, but understanding the expenses involved can help you make an informed decision. Age plays a critical role in the success of egg freezing, with the late 20s to early 30s considered the optimal age. However, freezing eggs at 40 is still possible, albeit with lower success rates.

The duration of egg storage depends on several factors, including the woman’s age, egg quality, and the expertise of the fertility clinic. While eggs can potentially be stored for many years, it’s crucial to consider any legal or ethical implications and discuss storage duration with your fertility specialist.

As always, it’s essential to discuss your options with a qualified fertility specialist, who can provide personalized advice and guidance based on your unique circumstances. With their expertise and the advanced technology available in India, egg freezing can be an empowering choice for many women seeking to preserve their fertility and take control of their reproductive future.

 

F.A.Q

Q: What does the egg-freezing process do?

A: The egg-freezing process, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, involves collecting a woman’s eggs, freezing them, and storing them for later use. This process allows women to preserve their fertility and increase their chances of having a biological child later in life.

Q: What are the benefits of egg freezing?

A: The benefits of egg freezing include preserving fertility for women who may not be ready to have children yet, allowing women to delay childbearing for personal or professional reasons, and providing a backup plan for women who may face infertility due to medical treatments or conditions.

Q: What is the best age to freeze your eggs?

A: The best age to freeze your eggs is in your 20s or early 30s, as this is when a woman’s eggs are typically healthiest and have the highest chance of resulting in a successful pregnancy. However, the decision to freeze eggs should be based on individual circumstances, and women can choose to freeze their eggs at any age.

Q: What is the cost of egg freezing?

A: The cost of egg freezing can vary depending on factors such as location, clinic, and individual circumstances. In the United States, the average cost of one cycle of egg freezing can range from $5,000 to $15,000, not including the cost of medications and annual storage fees.

Q: How much do freezing eggs cost in India?

A: In India, the cost of egg freezing can vary depending on the clinic and individual circumstances. On average, the cost of one cycle of egg freezing in India can range from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1,50,000.

Q: Is freezing eggs better than IVF?

A: Freezing eggs and IVF are different procedures that serve different purposes. Egg freezing is typically done for fertility preservation, while IVF is a treatment for infertility. Both procedures have their benefits and risks, and the decision to pursue one over the other should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider.

Q: Can I get pregnant after freezing eggs?

A: Yes, it is possible to get pregnant after freezing eggs. When a woman is ready to use her frozen eggs, they are thawed, fertilized with sperm in a laboratory, and transferred to the woman’s uterus in a procedure known as in vitro fertilization (IVF). The success rate of pregnancy using frozen eggs depends on various factors such as the woman’s age, the quality of the eggs, and the technique used for fertilization.

Q: What is the disadvantage of frozen eggs?

A: One of the main disadvantages of frozen eggs is that not all eggs survive the freezing and thawing process, which can result in lower success rates when using the eggs for fertility treatment. Additionally, the cost of egg freezing and storage can be a disadvantage for some women.

Q: Will eggs freeze at 30?

A: Yes, a woman’s eggs can be frozen at age 30 or any age, but the success rates of using frozen eggs for fertility treatment decrease as a woman ages.

Q: How many eggs does a woman have?

A: A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have, and the number of eggs she has declines as she ages. The average number of eggs a woman has at birth is around 1-2 million, but by puberty, the number of eggs has decreased to around 300,000-500,000, and by age 37, the number of eggs has decreased to around 25,000.

Q: What to avoid during egg freezing?

A: During egg freezing, it is generally recommended to avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and using recreational drugs, as these can have a negative impact on fertility. Additionally, women may be advised to avoid certain medications that can interfere with the egg-freezing process.

Q: Is egg freezing procedure painful?

A: The egg-freezing procedure typically involves a series of injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, which can cause discomfort and bloating. The egg retrieval procedure is performed under sedation or anesthesia, so most women do not experience pain during the procedure itself.

Q: Can you still get pregnant after freezing your eggs?

A: Yes, it is possible to get pregnant after freezing eggs. When a woman is ready to use her frozen eggs, they are thawed, fertilized with sperm in a laboratory, and transferred to the woman’s uterus in a procedure known as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Q: Do you still get your period after freezing your eggs?

A: Yes, women continue to have their menstrual periods after freezing their eggs. The egg-freezing process involves collecting eggs during a woman’s menstrual cycle, and the hormones used to stimulate egg production can cause some changes in menstrual cycle patterns.

Q: How long does the egg freezing process take?

A: The egg freezing process typically takes around 2-4 weeks from the start of the hormone injections to the egg retrieval procedure. The actual egg retrieval procedure usually takes around 20-30 minutes, but women may need to take a few days off from work or other activities to recover from the procedure.

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    Dr Mona Dahiya

    Dr Mona Dahiya

    IVF Specialist & Consultant

    Dr Mona Dahiya has performed over 5,000+ IVF cycles and is considered a global expert in IVF, ICSI, IUI and male fertility treatment. She is an eminent writer on Infertility Treatment and has over 100 Publications in both International and National Journals. Dr Mona Dahiya has immensely contributed to the field of infertility through her Research and articles.

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