Written by Karli Steenkamp
It can be very stressful for women to try and build their careers as well as knowing that your biological clock is ticking. Modern technology has made it possible for women to freeze their eggs. Freezing your eggs is done through a process called Vitrification, which is the quick freezing of unfertilised eggs. Initially it was for women who had chemotherapy or an early onset of perimenopause. More women, though, are becoming aware of this procedure and considering it for social reasons. Not having found the right person to have a child with, financial reasons, a woman’s age or career aspirations are major factors in the decision-making. Before you freeze your eggs, there are five things you should know.
1. Be prepared
It is not a quick or easy procedure. Freezing your eggs is quite a tricky process. Firstly, your hormones need to be stimulated through medication. This medicine is taken through daily injections. It helps the eggs to mature and to get as many as possible. Women can experience bloating during this process, but it is quite a painless procedure. Some women experience Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome where the ovaries swell and bleed, but this is a very rare complication.
Once you have finished the course of medicine (about 2-3 weeks), the eggs will be removed from the ovaries with an ultrasound-guided procedure through the vagina. A light general anaesthetic will be given and you can leave about two hours later. You should take it slow for the rest of the day.
The eggs will be frozen through Vitrification. When you are ready to use these eggs, they will be thawed, fertilised with sperm to form an embryo and then implanted back into the uterus.
This whole process might have to be repeated if not enough eggs were retrieved.
2. It is expensive
Freezing your eggs is expensive. Every clinic is different and has their own fees. Here is an estimation if the fees that you could pay for this procedure as set by IVF Australia.
- $ 1500 medicine
- $ 6900 for up to 10 eggs retrieved
- $ 300 for additional eggs
- $ 1045 day surgery
- $ 500 Anaesthetic
- $ 500 Storage
Because this is not necessarily a once-off process, makes it very expensive. Women who have this procedure done for medical reasons could be eligible for Medicare rebate.
3. An unreliable backup plan
Many women feel secure that they have extended their fertility. They are set on this procedure as their backup plan. Unfortunately, eggs can be very temperamental. Not all eggs will be suitable to freeze and not all eggs will survive the Vitrification process. Some eggs might not survive the thawing process and not all eggs will form into embryos. An embryo has a 35% chance of developing into a pregnancy. That is why it is important to freeze as many eggs as possible.
4. Age is not only a number
Age does matter. Medical professionals advise women to freeze their eggs before they are 35. The reality is that by the time women start thinking of freezing their eggs, they might be older than 35. The younger you are when freezing your eggs, the better quality the eggs are.
● Women under 35 should store at least 10 eggs.
● Women 38 years should store 20 eggs.
● Women 40 years should store 3 eggs.
You have to take into consideration that clinics won’t perform this procedure if
you are too old for your own health as well as the baby should you fall
5. Every clinic is different – do your research
Every state or territory has their own laws with regards to freezing eggs. You should make sure that you do your research and ask questions when deciding which clinic is best for you.
Ask the following:
● What success rate do they have? (How many pregnancies?)
● What are the ages of the women that fall pregnant?
● How many eggs do they need from you to do this procedure?
● What will be an estimated quote for this procedure?
● How do they freeze the eggs?
● How do they store the eggs?
● Is storage included in the price?
● Can they thaw, fertilise and implant the embryos? (Not all clinics can do everything)
This journey can be emotional on women and they might feel lonely. It is good
to find a support network to be there for you through this process. There is not much data about this procedure because it is quite new, however, there are many success stories. It is important to think about what you want and to take action, taking charge of your future. However there is no guarantee that it will work, but if it is successful, this procedure will soon be a distant memory and you will have beautiful memories growing by the day.
Better Health Channel