12 Feb The Egg Freezing Process
Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) offers the remarkable ability to preserve future fertility many years before you’re ready to start a family. It’s also the means of preserving fertility when it is compromised by a cancer diagnosis and/or treatment side effects.
You benefit from optimal fertility chances when freezing eggs between the ages of 25- and 35, when eggs are the most viable.
Step One: Consult with a fertility specialist
The first step is to consult with a local fertility specialist. In addition to discussing all of the factors worth considering before freezing your eggs, and answering your questions, we’ll test AmH and FSH levels. We’ll also perform a vaginal ultrasound to get a look at your fallopian tubes and egg follicles.
The results of these diagnostic procedures, called ovarian reserve testing, provide a good indication of your total egg reserves.
If the reserves are healthy, and you’re ready to continue with the process, we’ll move on to Step Two.
Step Two: Ovarian stimulation via fertility medications
The next step is to stimulate our ovarian follicles, so they release an abundant amount of eggs. We like to retrieve as many at 15 to 20 or more eggs at a time, which increases fertility chances when you’re eventually ready to start IVF.
We’ll prescribe two different types of fertility medications, both of which are administered by injection.
- Follitropin alfa or beta (Follistim AQ, Gonal-f) or menotropins (Menopur), or other similar medications to stimulate multiple egg follicles.
- Leuproline acetate (Lupron) or a gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist such as cetrorelix (Cetrotide) may also be prescribed to eliminate immature ovarian release.
Step Three: Continuous monitoring and in-house support
You’ll be carefully monitored throughout the ovarian stimulation process. Patients are seen regularly for brief office visits (15- to 20-minutes each), over seven to 10 days, to supervise their progress. This includes blood tests to monitor hormone levels, ultrasound monitoring to determine when the follicles are mature, and tracking of fertility medication side effects.
Once the follicles are mature and ready for retrieval (typically around day 10 to 14), you’ll administer a single injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (Pregnyl, Ovidrel, or another brand) to stimulate the eggs’ release.
You’ll have 100% support for your first injection as we teach you exactly how to do it, answer any questions you may have, and provide all the tips you need to minimize discomfort or pain at the injections site(s).
Step Four: Egg retrieval
The next day, you’ll come in for the egg retrieval. This is a relatively simple, quick office visit (around 20 minutes). You’ll need someone to drive you there and take you home because we use a mild sedative to support your relaxation and comfort during the retrieval procedure.
The physician will use transvaginal ultrasound to provide a visual of the follicles and the direction and movement of the needle used for retrieval.
The specialized needle is inserted into your vagina, through the cervix, and into the fallopian tube, where it gently aspirates (suctions) the follicle fluid and mature eggs, one by one. There are no cuts, stitches, or other invasive steps required.
Step Five: Egg freezing
Once all of the eggs are retrieved, they’ll be vitrified (frozen). This process occurs so quickly that it prevents ice crystals from forming in the egg or the suspension solution. That way, the eggs’ membranes remain intact, free of punctures or tears, when thawed and prepared for fertilization.
Are you interested in learning more about egg freezing and whether it’s the right option for you? Schedule a consultation with the Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Center of Virginia.