The ability to freeze unfertilized eggs is a relatively new advancement within reproductive medicine. For several decades, the technology to freeze embryos has been available with good pregnancy rates, but the technology associated with freezing eggs is more recent ‒ using a rapid freezing process known as vitrification. Read below to learn more about the steps involved in the egg freezing process.
The Egg Freezing Cycle
The process of egg freezing can be accomplished in a relatively short time-frame ‒ usually less than one month.
From the first day of a patient’s menstrual cycle, birth control pills are generally given for several weeks to ensure the ovaries are at an optimal point to begin stimulation. Following birth control pills, patients are started on injectible medicines using a very small needle. These medicines cause many eggs to develop at the same time instead of just one. During this process (usually taking about 10 to 14 days), women are monitored very closely, approximately every day to every third day with ultrasound monitoring and bloodwork to ensure the process is done effectively and safely.
When an optimal clinical picture has been achieved, patients take a shot designed to mature the eggs. The eggs are then retrieved in a relatively minor outpatient procedure where the patient is sedated. An ultrasound guided needle is used to take out the eggs, so there’s no incision involved.
The mature eggs then undergo a complex set of preparations by expertly trained embryologists prior to the actual freezing process. These preparations are generally done on the day of egg retrieval.
After Egg Retrieval
Following egg retrieval, no further medications are required, and most women have a menstrual period and resume normal cycles within 10 to 14 days. There is no known limit to the length of time eggs can stay frozen. When women want to achieve pregnancy using their frozen eggs, the eggs are thawed and fertilized with sperm, forming embryos. Up to two embryos per cycle can be placed into the uterus in hopes of achieving pregnancy.
Freezing eggs stops the biological clock from ticking, so it makes sense for many patients to pursue when they are young, don’t plan to get pregnant in the near future, and want to preserve their fertility.
If you’d like more information about egg freezing and whether it’s something you should consider, please contact Fertility Associates of Memphis at 901-747-2229 for an appointment.