To Freeze or Not to Freeze? Making the Decision to Freeze your Eggs

To Freeze or Not to Freeze? Making the Decision to Freeze your Eggs

By Odera Okafor, Medical Advisor

The age old, overplayed question “to be or not to be”, but make it practical. Make it relevant. Make it based in the real world, like the question went outside and touched grass. Now we ask “to freeze my eggs or not to freeze my eggs.” Well the answer depends on various factors including but not limited to your family planning goals, your age, your present and future fertility, and your ability to pay (because this sh!t can be expensive). 

But first, let’s get into what it actually means to freeze your eggs. The process of egg freezing, or in medical terms oocyte cryopreservation, begins with your first consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist. During this consultation, your doctor will get a basic history and understanding of your reproductive health. This includes understanding your menstrual cycle and any previous sexually transmitted infections and treatments. 

Afterward, if you want to go ahead with freezing your eggs, your doctor will prescribe you medications that will help the follicles in your ovaries mature. Each mature follicle is about 16-20mm and we typically expect anywhere from 8-15 follicles. Now for the good part. Once you have at least 3 mature follicles, your REI doctor will want to retrieve them for cryopreservation through a process called egg retrieval. 

Egg retrieval is a short procedure in which you are put under sedation (like a quick power nap) while your doctor uses ultrasound guidance to collect the matured and nearly mature follicles from your ovaries. An onsite scientist looks at your follicles to make sure there is an egg in each sac. The follicles that have eggs are then frozen and stored in an egg storage of your choosing.

Now we know what egg freezing looks like, the question of if we should do it remains? Here are some reasons to freeze your eggs and some reasons why you may not want to:


Don’t Freeze (or maybe wait)

  • For future fertility (since you’re younger, you not only have more eggs but also higher quality eggs) 
  • You may have a condition that could affect your ability to get pregnant (premature low ovarian reserve, cancer, etc.)
  • You are strongly considering IVF and/or already undergoing IVF 
  • Expensive! (the medications to stimulate follicle growth are not cheap, and you have to pay yearly storage)
  • Possible rare side effects including Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome where your ovaries swell due to overstimulation from the medication.
  • You don’t want kids now or in the future

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