Once used mainly for women with particular medical conditions or undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy, egg freezing or fertility preservation is being used more and more for women who for varying reasons are not ready to have children yet and want the chance of conceiving in the future.
In the last 12 months, there appears to be a growing interest in egg freezing, but what’s involved, what are the risks, how successful is it really and how much can you expect to pay?
What’s involved in egg freezing?
The very first step you need to take is to consider which clinic you would like to use. Egg freezing is not available on the NHS and therefore you would need to consider a private clinic for your treatment. The HFEA website is a great place to start as this details clinics that offer egg freezing.
It is important to have some initial tests done. These are in general an AMH test to assess at your ovarian reserve, a scan and other routine blood tests. I can arrange a clinic referral and all the tests that you need as well as offering you guidance and support whilst you navigate the process.
You then start the IVF process. This normally involves taking IVF drugs to increase egg production and help your eggs to mature. This process takes around 2-3 weeks and when your eggs are ready, they will be collected under general anaesthetic or sedation. Ideally, around 15 eggs will be retrieved, however women with low ovarian reserve may have less.
After egg collection your eggs will then be frozen either by cooling them slowly or by a process called vitrification which freezes the eggs very fast. The frozen eggs are then stored in liquid nitrogen. You eggs can be frozen for 10 years and in some circumstances up to 55 years.
When you are ready to use your eggs, they will be thawed and injected with your partner’s or donor’s sperm.
What are the risks?
IVF in generally is very safe. However some women do experience side effects from the drugs and in some cases can develop the serious condition Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
How successful is it?
Currently the numbers of women receiving the treatment are low and therefore it is a little unsure how successful egg freezing is. As numbers increase, more information will be available, however in 2013 the live birth rate for frozen eggs was 14% in women under 35 (HFEA 2013).
The new freezing method of vitrification is demonstrating higher success rates, which is very encouraging. It is vital to find out your clinics success rates for women in your age group.
What you can expect to pay
All clinics differ in price and therefore it is important to do your homework. In general you can expect to pay in the region of £2,500-£5,000. There are very likely to be extra costs to including storage costs that range from £150-£400 a year.
If you would like more information on egg freezing, baseline tests and clinic referral, feel free to get in touch.