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Getting Started with Egg Freezing
If you’re interested in egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation), your first step is to locate a fertility clinic or reproductive endocrinologist experienced in this process. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer or another disease in which the treatment (chemotherapy, radiation, or medication) harms ovarian function, discuss egg freezing with your doctor or oncologist. She or he should be able to refer you for a ‘fast track’ egg freezing and connect you to a reputable fertility clinic.
The egg freezing process is similar to the initial phases of in vitro fertilization (IVF). You’ll take hormones for approximately three weeks to increase the number of mature eggs you produce during a menstrual cycle. Your eggs (ideally 10-12) will then be extracted and frozen.
When you’re ready to become pregnant, your eggs will be thawed, fertilized, and implanted in your uterus. The most advanced freezing method is vitrification, in which water is removed from the eggs, which are then ‘flash frozen’ with liquid nitrogen.
Get the Facts About Freezing Your Eggs
When exploring fertility clinics/reproductive endocrinologists offering egg preservation, ask:
- About its oocyte cryostorage agreement and where the eggs are stored
- The egg thaw survival rate
- The clinic’s success rate (live birth) from frozen egg IVF (claims range from 20% to 75%)
- About their cryopreservation method (vitrification is the most effective)
- How many years the eggs can remain frozen and viable
- Fees for one cycle, annual storage fees, and thawing fees
- The average number of eggs needed (You may have to undergo two or three menstrual cycles and surgical egg extractions.)
- How and when the clinic will dispose of your unused eggs
- Its back-up plans in the event of an extended power failure, an unexpected shut down or if you stop paying your storage fees