Egg Freezing Overview

Elective egg freezing is an option for women who want to preserve their fertility until they are ready to start a family.

The ideal time to freeze eggs is before the age of 35.  Egg freezing stops the “biological clock” from ticking. With this treatment, your future chance of pregnancy is related to the age you were when the eggs were frozen, not the age you are when you attempt conception with your frozen eggs.

Carolina Conceptions understands many women today are having children at a later age for various career or lifestyle choices, or due to circumstances that are beyond their control. We would like to educate you on the process of egg freezing and help you understand it as an option to preserve or extend your fertility. While freezing your eggs does not guarantee a future pregnancy, it can provide peace of mind by removing some of the pressure women feel from the ticking “biological clock” as fertility declines with age.

Egg freezing is an exciting option for women who want to preserve their fertility until they are ready to start a family.  We realize that factors such as careers and relationships can influence a woman’s decision to pursue pregnancy.  Egg freezing gives you the freedom and peace of mind to pursue other goals, while also making it possible to start a family when the time is right for you.

Age is the single-most important factor to achieving pregnancy. Once women reach their late 30s, egg number and egg quality start to rapidly decrease, which in turn lowers your chance for successful pregnancy.  To put this in perspective, a woman in her early 30s has about a 60% chance of pregnancy with in vitro fertilization (IVF), but this chance falls dramatically to 5% by age 43.

The process of egg freezing starts with your consult visit, where your physician at Carolina Conceptions will run blood work to assess your overall egg count.  On average, it takes 4 weeks from your first consult to the egg retrieval procedure.  For about 10 days, you will give yourself injectable hormones.  You will come into our clinic for ultrasounds and bloodwork to make sure you have the best response to the medications.  Only one day off of work is needed during the process, and this is for the day of the egg retrieval as it requires anesthesia.

Typically, we can expect to retrieve 5- 20 eggs at the time of the procedure, although this varies based on age and health.  In general, 5-10 eggs are needed to produce 1-2 embryos that are good enough to attempt pregnancy.  Some women opt to undergo back-to-back egg freeze cycles to reach a goal number of eggs that makes sense for the number of children they’d like to have in the future.

Though many clinics now offer egg freezing, Carolina Conceptions has the most experience and success with freezing and thawing techniques and has been validated by Donor Egg Bank USA.

Egg Freeze Patient FAQs

Is egg freezing medically safe?
Yes. The Practice Committees of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) have released new practice guidelines that remove the “experimental” label from oocyte preservation (egg freezing). “Although data are limited, no increase in chromosomal abnormalities, birth defects, and developmental deficits have been reported in the offspring born from cryopreserved oocytes when compared to pregnancies from conventional IVF/ICSI and the general population. Evidence indicates that oocyte vitrification and warming should no longer be considered experimental.” October, 2012

Though no longer needed, Carolina Conceptions has had Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval since 2010 to perform egg freezing on a trial basis. Carolina Conceptions has ongoing pregnancies and deliveries with patients who conceived with the use of frozen eggs.

Is there any reason I may NOT be a good candidate for egg freezing?
At Carolina Conceptions, we complete a blood test to determine a patient’s approximate egg reserve after an egg freeze consult. If the results are extremely low, we will recommend the patient not complete the egg freeze process because there are too few eggs to harvest. A low or borderline egg reserve may not produce many eggs at a time, and might require multiple cycles of treatment to accumulate a good number of eggs to freeze.
How old are the majority of the egg freezing patients at Carolina Conceptions?
The average age range of women coming to Carolina Conceptions for egg freezing is typically in their 30’s. If you are considering freezing your eggs, we recommend you don’t wait. Fertility success is most dependent on maternal age. Therefore, the younger you are starting this process, the more likely you will have success later in life when you are ready to start a family.  Success rates are best when women freeze eggs before the age of 35.
Who chooses egg preservation most often?
  1. Young women who have either not found the right partner, or are currently career focused
  2. Couples who are ethically or religiously opposed to the freezing of human embryos during their IVF cycle
  3. Women with a cancer diagnosis who want to preserve their eggs and fertility prior to undergoing chemotherapy
What type of freezing method is used by Carolina Conceptions?
At Carolina Conceptions, we use the vitrification (ultra-rapid freezing process) method because human eggs contain nutritional reserves: water, lipids, proteins, polysaccharides. When eggs are frozen without vitrification, ice crystals can be formed that damage their structure. Vitrification allows successful egg freezing without ice crystallization during the freezing process. Once frozen, eggs can remain in liquid nitrogen for many years until they are needed.
How many eggs should I expect to produce in an egg preservation cycle at Carolina Conceptions?
Most women will produce between 5-20, depending on age and personal health circumstances.
Of the eggs I freeze, how many should I expect will be usable in the future?
Egg quality varies widely from person to person, but also declines with increasing age.  In general, 5-10 eggs are needed to produce 1-2 embryos that are good enough to attempt pregnancy.
How much should I expect to spend on an egg preservation cycle, medications, and annual frozen egg storage fees?

Please call the office at (919) 782-5911 for an estimate and information regarding medication assistance.

What are the steps in an egg preservation cycle?
  1. Physician Consult to discuss the process
  2. Blood Tests
  3. Nursing Class to learn how to give yourself injections of hormones
  4. Ovarian Stimulation begins once the ovaries are ready. You will give yourself injections of hormones to stimulate a group of eggs to develop in the ovaries. On average, 9 days of injections are required.  During that time, about 4 visits are required in the office for ultrasounds and blood work to follow the response by the ovaries and adjust medication doses as needed.
  5. Egg Retrieval is performed under anesthesia because an ultrasound-guided needle is inserted into the ovaries to collect the eggs. The procedure only takes 10 minutes to complete.  The eggs are frozen on that day.
How long does the egg preservation cycle take from consult to retrieval?

Approximately 4 weeks. Will I need to take off work or have someone drive me to or from an appointment at any point during the cycle? Only on the day of the egg retrieval, due to the anesthesia.

Will I need to go through this process more than once?

If someone doesn’t produce many eggs, it would be best to do more than one cycle of ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval. The chance of a successful pregnancy in the future is better if there are more eggs frozen.  In general, it is good to have about 15 eggs frozen.

What Happens When I’m Ready to Use My Eggs in the Future?
When the time is right for you, call our office to schedule a physician consult with your partner or spouse.  Eggs will be thawed and fertilized, then cultured into embryos during the next 5 days.  Usually 1 or 2 embryos are transferred into the uterus and any additional embryos of good quality will be frozen for future use.
Are some eggs ever lost in the warming process?
Most eggs will survive the warming process, but only a minority will develop into good embryos (which is normal).
How many “tries” or cycles should I expect to get later from my frozen eggs?
We typically warm between 5 and 8 eggs for each treatment.  This is usually enough to create 1 or 2 nice embryos for use.  We do not have to thaw/warm all of the eggs at one time.
Why should I choose Carolina Conceptions over the other fertility clinics in the area for egg preservation?

Though many clinics now offer egg freezing, Carolina Conceptions has the most experience and success with freezing and thawing techniques validated by Donor Egg Bank USA. If you think egg freezing sounds like the right choice for you, please call our office at (919) 782-5911 to schedule a consult with one of our physicians. We look forward to meeting you and helping you preserve your fertility for later, today.