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Egg freezing

Forward-thinking fertility preservation

Why freeze your eggs?

As technology improves, egg freezing has become increasingly popular – both for social and health reasons.

Egg freezing is a form of fertility preservation for women. It may be suitable for:

  • Women facing medical interventions (such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and some operations) that could damage their future fertility
  • Women concerned about their fertility declining with age (“social egg freezing”)
  • Young women with family history of premature ovarian failure
  • Young women with a low ovarian reserve who are not yet ready to have children
  • Single women who would decline egg donation if needed later in life
  • Single women who would like to plan for their future families
  • Those who are at risk of injury or death, e.g. member of the armed forces deployed to a war zone
  • Women about to undergo a gender change operation (and would like to have a child later in life)

Social norms are changing

Couples are starting families later in life. Whilst the previous generation often had children in their early 20s, we now see that women are more likely to think about starting a family in their 30s.

An article in The Independent provided insight from research between the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and Yale University in the US:

“85 per cent of those visiting (fertility) clinics were not in romantic relationships at the time, the remaining 15 per cent had unstable partners who were either not interested in having children or were also in relationships with other people. 

When their motivations for freezing their eggs were analysed, it transpired that prioritising one’s career was the least common response.

Most of the women had already pursued and completed their educational and career goals, but by their late 30s had been unable to find a lasting reproductive relationship with a stable partner. This is why they turned to egg freezing.”

What is the process?

The egg freezing procedure is similar to an IVF cycle.

Drug stimulation


After an initial assessment, you will be given a treatment plan.

You will be given a medication that will suppress your natural menstrual cycle – this happens in the ”pre-treatment month”

In the following days, you will have a baseline pelvic ultrasound scan and may be required to take some hormone blood tests to look at your oestrogen levels.

You will be prescribed some fertility drugs to inject yourself with for around 8-12 days.

These are to stimulate the growth of follicles (sacs that hold an immature egg).

Monitoring & egg maturity


During this period, you will be required to go into your clinic every few days to have monitoring scans.

Based on the monitoring, you may be required to increase or decrease the dose of your medication.

Once the eggs have matured to around 20mm in size, you will be required to take a Trigger Injection (medication).

The timing is vital – and a specific time of the day is usually required.

Egg collection


Around 36 hours after your trigger injection, you will undergo an egg collection at the clinic – this takes less than 30 minutes.

You will be sedated throughout the procedure through a light sedative.

Your doctor will then use a transvaginal ultrasound to guide a needle and aspirate (suck up) the eggs from the follicles.

Around 95% of patients have at least 1 egg collected, with the average being around 8 to 15.

You will recover at the clinic for a few hours before being released home.

Cryopreservation


Upon collection, the eggs will be assessed for quality and vitrified (frozen).

These can be stored for up to 10 years as default for future use.

When you are ready to start a family, you will be required to have a ‘thaw, fertilisation and transfer’ treatment cycle.

If you would like to fertilise the eggs for later use, you will undergo a ‘thaw, fertilisation and freeze’ procedure.

Further information

Only certain individuals will receive NHS funding for their treatment. Those that wish to freeze their eggs for ‘social’ reasons will need to have treatment at private clinics.

The HFEA has produced a document ‘Should I freeze my eggs‘ for those thinking about undergoing the procedure.

If you would like more information, please get in touch with us here and we will be able to answer any further questions you may have.

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