In This Article
In This Article
Egg freezing allows you to delay pregnancy and conceive later in life.
It's a good option for women struggling to get pregnant due to a health condition or treatments that impair fertility—such as radiation therapy for ovarian cancer.
Healthy young women who just aren’t ready to have a child may also consider freezing eggs.
We asked Dr. Rizza Mira about everything there is to know about egg freezing. She's a licensed medical doctor and our resident medical reviewer at KnowYourDNA.
Egg freezing or mature oocyte cryopreservation is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) that enables you to have a child at a later time.
It involves collecting mature eggs from a woman's ovaries—also known as egg retrieval. The woman’s eggs are immediately frozen and stored for future fertility.1
When you're ready to have a child, a fertility specialist can use the frozen eggs to help you conceive via in vitro fertilization (IVF).2
Know Your DNA Reviews
Don't miss out on the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Read our best DNA test page to find the best one for you.
Egg freezing is for women who want to preserve their fertility for whatever reason.
Most women undergo medical egg freezing for health reasons. But you can also opt for social egg freezing to avoid age-related infertility, even if you don't have a health problem.
Below are some scenarios on why you would want to consider it.
Health conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid imbalance can affect your fertility and make it difficult to get pregnant.3
Egg freezing helps you preserve your fertility until your medical problems are successfully treated or your health improves to a point where pregnancy is possible.
Treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy can impair fertility and make it difficult or impossible to have a baby. It's because they can:4
Women who freeze their eggs before undergoing treatment will be able to preserve fertility. You'll have a supply of eggs that fertility specialists can use to help you conceive.
Egg freezing lets you attempt pregnancy at a later age. It's a great way to plan pregnancy for:
Even if you reach menopause, a frozen egg can still be used to conceive a child through surrogacy. It's when another woman (a surrogate) carries the baby to term.
People who are transitioning from female to male (FTM) require hormone therapy. This can make you infertile unless you have your eggs frozen before treatment.
Elective egg freezing offers hope to transgender men who want to have biological children after they've transitioned.
An egg freezing cycle lasts four to six weeks. Your doctor may recommend doing it more than once if they don't get enough good-quality eggs. Here is how egg freezing works:
During this phase, your doctor will give you hormones that stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs at a faster rate. Some treatments you may get are:
Normally, your body produces one mature egg every menstrual cycle. Ovarian stimulation improves your chances of a successful egg retrieval procedure.
Ovarian stimulation typically lasts 10 to 14 days. Doctors will determine your dosage by performing other tests.
"Blood tests and pelvic ultrasound are important guides for your doctor. It can help them determine the amount of medication you need for hormonal therapy," says Dr. Mira.
This is done to prevent ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which causes symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
The doctor will retrieve your eggs using transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. But first, they have to make sure that your follicles have matured.
Once they confirm this with ultrasound imaging, a needle with a suctioning device will be inserted through the vagina to retrieve your eggs.
After harvesting your unfertilized eggs, they are flash-frozen in subzero temperatures with a process known as vitrification.
Vitrification combines rapid cooling with a high concentration of cryoprotectants. This preserves eggs without damaging their cells.
You might experience some bloating and abdominal cramps weeks following egg retrieval. But you can go back to your daily activities within a week.
Let your doctor know if you notice these signs:
Younger women usually have a healthier and more significant ovarian reserve. It means they have more eggs that are viable for pregnancy.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends harvesting eggs when you're still 20 to 30 years old.
It depends. Most doctors recommend freezing anywhere between 10 and 20 eggs. A fertility specialist needs to evaluate you before they can determine how many eggs they will freeze.
They will consider factors such as your current age, how many children you want, and how you respond to ovarian stimulation.
Freezing more fresh eggs improves your chances of a successful pregnancy. So a doctor may try to retrieve up to 30 eggs or more if you:
Before freezing your eggs, the doctor might ask you to undergo ovarian reserve testing (ORT). This test is usually performed in a laboratory, but at-home kits are also available.
An at-home ovarian reserve test can help you:
Egg freezing is an effective fertility preservation method. However, one thing to keep in mind is that it doesn't guarantee a pregnancy. Out of all retrieved eggs:
"The mother's age during egg harvest and pregnancy, existing medical conditions, and her psychological state all have an effect on the success of treatment," says Dr. Mira.
In a study of 543 women aged 27 to 44 who underwent egg freezing, 39 percent went on to have a child.
Researchers found that thawing more eggs also improved a woman's pregnancy outcomes, regardless of her age. After thawing more than 20 mature eggs:5
The cost of egg freezing is usually calculated per cycle, which can vary based on your location and chosen facility.
One egg freezing cycle usually costs $6,000 to $20,000. Egg storage will also cost you an additional $500 to $2,000 every year.
Each treatment cycle only produces an average of ten eggs. You may need to undergo several treatments—which can double or triple the costs.
It depends on the freezing method used. Both egg and embryo freezing can be equally effective if the eggs and/or embryos are flash-frozen with liquid nitrogen.
Flash freezing prevents ice crystals from forming in the cells and tissues, which can cause damage and make them unusable.
But if a laboratory uses slow freezing as a preservation method, it’s better to freeze embryos because they are less delicate compared to eggs.
Here are the key differences between these two methods:
In both methods, the sperm that fertilizes the eggs can come from a partner, a sperm donor, or an anonymous donor from a sperm bank.
Know Your DNA Reviews
Looking for the best microbiome kit on the market? Look no further! Our review round-up page has all the information you need to make an informed decision.