What is Egg Freezing?
Egg Freezing, also called mature oocyte cryopreservation, is the method of storing a woman’s unfertilised eggs so she can try to conceive later, when natural conception may be more difficult. The benefit of freezing eggs when you are younger is that at age 25 you have a high number of eggs, and many of these eggs will be of good quality. The age of an egg (oocyte) is very important when it comes to it being fertilised and developing into an embryo and then a healthy baby. At age 40, your eggs are less likely to create a healthy baby.
Many women wonder how long eggs can be frozen. We are able to store frozen eggs for many years without it affecting their quality. The period varies depending on applicable state and territory legislation.
A Medicare rebate is only available if you are undergoing an egg freezing procedure for medical reasons, please talk to your Doctor if you are unsure if you qualify. Full costs associated with egg freezing are outlined in the Elective Egg Freezing Orientation Booklet below.
Generally, high ovarian reserve and a high percentage of genetically normal eggs
Strong chance of conceiving each month
Typically, fewer eggs and each egg is less likely to be genetically normal
More difficult to become pregnant
In short, your frozen eggs won’t age and can be thawed and fertilised with a sperm when you’re ready.
For many of us and for many reasons, the immediate future is not the right time to be starting a family.
Our egg freezing procedure allows you the opportunity to have children when the time is right.
How does it work?
To begin, your first appointment will be with a Fertility GP, who will discuss your options and review your medical history. Your GP will ask you to undergo some Blood Tests and an Ultrasound to check key fertility markers.
Once all your results are back at the clinic, you will be given an appointment with an Adora Fertility Specialist. After discussing treatment options, your Fertility Specialist will tailor a program to ensure the optimal outcome.
It is at this point that your doctor will advise if your cycle is eligible to be covered under Medicare. Please note: this is mainly reserved for women who are suffering from serious medical conditions such as, undergoing chemotherapy or severe endometriosis.
During an egg freezing cycle you will need to inject yourself with follicle stimulating hormones (FSH), to stimulate the ovaries so that multiple follicles grow. It’s the follicle that contains the egg, however it is important to note that not every follicle will contain an egg.
Other injections used include antagonist or agonist injections and the trigger injection. Antagonist or agonist injections prevent ovulation occurring to protect the eggs from being released from the follicles as they grow.
The trigger injection is given just prior to egg collection to start the process of ovulation and prepare the eggs to be collected during the egg collection procedure or oocyte pick up (OPU).
All injections used in Egg Freezing are given by the patients themselves at home. They are simple to prepare and use. Injections are given for approximately 10-14 days, however every woman is different and every cycle is different and it will depends how long the follicles take to grow to be the right size to have mature eggs collected.
Consultation with Fertility Nurse
During the consultation, with your Fertility Nurse, you will be guided through the entire process of your treatment cycle, including medications and how to administer them. Remember, an Adora Nurse will be available to guide you every step of the way.
Treatment Cycle and Monitoring
The first step in your egg freezing cycle is to contact one of Adora’s Nurses when your period starts. Your nurse will instruct you to have a blood test. Once your results are back at the clinic and reviewed by your Fertility Specialists, you will receive further information on when and how to use your fertility medications. For example, the cycle will involve self-administering injections to stimulate your ovaries.
Your specialist will manage your cycles and one of Adora Nurses will closely monitor your progress over approximately 12 to 14 days.
Egg Retrieval Procedure
When your follicles, the sacs that contain the eggs are a certain size, it indicates that they contain mature eggs and are ready to harvest. It’s then time for your egg retrieval. Your egg retrieval / collection procedure will be performed in a fully-accredited day surgery under the care of a Fertility Specialist. The procedure is performed under light general anaesthetic, so there will be minimal pain or discomfort.
Most women find that they are able to go back to work within a day or two after the procedure.
Vitrification and Cryopreservation
The collected eggs are assessed for their maturity.
The mature eggs are then frozen in our lab by our team of scientists and embryologist. Once they are frozen, they remain in storage until you are ready to use them.
Undergoing egg freezing is a safe and established treatment. It’s important to understand your chances of success when you use these frozen eggs (oocytes) in the future.
Using markers of ovarian reserve, such as your AMH and Antral Follicle Count on ultrasound, your Fertility Specialist will optimise your treatment plan to maximise the number of good quality mature eggs that can be retrieved. Only mature eggs are frozen, and not all eggs that are retrieved are mature.
To increase your chances of having a baby in the future, your Fertility Specialist may recommend that you undergo more than one egg freezing cycle.
When you return in the future to use your eggs, they will be carefully thawed and then fertilised using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected into each egg.
Once an egg is fertilised, it is called an embryo. The embryos are cultured in incubators in the lab for 5 days (to the blastocyst stage) and then transferred into the uterus. Usually, only one blastocyst is transferred at a time, but the other good-quality embryos are frozen.
Egg freezing does not guarantee a baby, but it is a good option for giving women additional reproductive choices.
An easily understood measure of success is the chance of delivering a baby, which relates directly to a woman’s age and the number of eggs that are frozen. Based on your testing, your Fertility Specialist will be able to give you a realistic expectation of how many eggs may be collected from your cycle. It is not just about numbers but also about quality. The younger you are when you freeze the eggs, the better the quality of those eggs.
Although egg freezing is a safe and well-established treatment, there is not a large amount of data from women who have returned to use their frozen eggs.
Recent, good-quality publications have indicated that IVF outcomes using frozen eggs are comparable to those when fresh eggs are used (Cobo et al. 20101; Rienzi et al. 20104; Doyle et al. 20163; Rienzi et al. 20165).
The following statistics were taken from a respected medical journal, Human Reproduction, and published in 20172. It is an evidence-based counselling tool developed for women to predict the likelihood of a live birth based on age and the number of eggs frozen. It is a mathematical model derived from a surrogate population of patients with normal ovarian reserve.
According to this model, women with 20 mature eggs frozen at the age of 34, 37 & 40 would be expected to have a 90%, 75%, and 53% likelihood respectively of having at least one live birth. As another example, women aged 34, 37, or 40 would need to freeze 10, 20, and almost 40 eggs respectively to have a 75% likelihood of having at least one live birth.
In a different study published in a respected medical journal (Fertility and Sterility), four graphs were established to predict probabilities of having at least one live-born child according to the number of mature eggs frozen in a certain age range.
Due to low chances of success, at Adora Fertility, we do not recommend egg freezing for women over age 40. Between the ages of 38 and 40 is a grey zone of recommendation. It would depend upon how many eggs can be frozen, which can be predicted with some level of accuracy from ovarian reserve tests such as AMH.
There are a number of variables, and at your consultation, your Fertility Specialist will provide you with detailed information about your individual success rates.
|Service or treatment||Estimated out of pocket expense|
|Elective Egg Freeze Cycle – Initial||$3800|
|Elective Egg Freeze Cycle – Subsequent||$3500|
|Day Surgery Facility Fee and Anaesthetist||Dependent on location|