What is egg freezing?

Egg freezing is a method of fertility preservation. The method is used for patients who want to preserve their eggs for later in life when they’re ready to start a family.

Egg Freezing

When to consider egg freezing

If you plan on conceiving later in life, you may benefit from using eggs that are frozen now, while you are younger, instead of trying to conceive at an older age when egg quality is reduced and pregnancy rates from those eggs are lower.

 

Some patients choose egg freezing to focus on growing their career, achieving financial stability or finding a stable relationship. This choice allows them to worry less about the effect of age on fertility. The method also maintains the potential opportunity to be genetically related to your future child.

 

Egg freezing also benefits patients who have a medical condition known to reduce fertility over time, such as endometriosis or a family history of early menopause. You may also want to consider egg freezing if you will be undergoing ovarian surgery or before beginning a medication that may impair fertility.

 

While success rates have become much higher – egg freezing is still not a guarantee. About 85% of eggs will survive the freezing and thawing, and chances of pregnancy per egg is about 6.4%. Pregnancy rates per freezing cycle are on average 25%, but can range from less than 5% to higher than 60% depending on how old you are when your eggs are frozen and the number of eggs you freeze.

 

How to get referred:

Before you can become a patient, we must receive a referral from your health care provider. Download our Patient Referral Form and have them complete and fax the completed form. Once we receive your referral, we will contact you within 5 business days to confirm your referral and gather some additional information.

Completed forms can be faxed to 416-586-4648.

What are the steps involved?

How to get referred:

Before you can become a patient, we must receive a referral from your health care provider. Download our Patient Referral Form and have them complete and fax the completed form. Once we receive your referral, we will contact you within 5 business days to confirm your referral and gather some additional information.

Completed forms can be faxed to 416-586-4648.

Before starting treatment, you will meet with a Mount Sinai Fertility Physician or Nurse Practitioner for an initial consultation. We will discuss your goals for egg freezing, the procedure, and advise you on your likelihood of successfully becoming pregnant in the future from frozen-thawed eggs.

The procedure includes many steps:

Priming Prepares The Ovaries For Stimulation

Most cycles start with a preparation month called “priming.” Before you start any fertility medications, you will take either estrogen tablets or the birth control pill for 1 – 3 weeks to calm the ovaries. This helps to ensure the follicles develop at the same rate.

Ovaries Are Stimulated To Produce Multiple Eggs

After your priming month, you will take injectable fertility medications to stimulate your ovaries to produce and grow more mature eggs. Most people need to take injectable fertility medications every day for 9 to 12 days. During this time, we will do blood tests and internal (transvaginal) ultrasounds to track the development of the follicles in your ovaries. While taking the fertility medications, you will need to see us about 4 to 6 times. These appointments are scheduled in the early morning. You may be asked to return every one to two days until you are ready for the egg retrieval procedure. Once your follicles have developed to an appropriate size and number, you will be prescribed a medication that helps the developing eggs complete their maturation process. The timing of this medication is very important. Your fertility care team will give you specific instructions on the time to perform this injection.

Mature Eggs Are Removed From The Ovaries

The egg retrieval procedure is when eggs are removed from your ovaries using a needle and an internal ultrasound. The needle travels through a special cover attached to the internal ultrasound probe. It passes through the vagina and into each ovary. The follicles are drained and all the fluid sent to the lab. The embryologists working the in the lab carefully examine the fluid under the microscope to find the eggs. The doctor will give you sedative medications through an IV before the procedure begins, to help relax you and provide pain relief. While you will not be asleep, you should be comfortable. The procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, you will stay in our recovery area for about 1 hour before going home.

Eggs Are Frozen Using Vitrification Technology

The vitrification method of egg freezing addresses this key problem. Egg vitrification is a “flash freezing” method in which cells are immersed directly into liquid nitrogen, cooling them so quickly to -196ºC that they become “glass-like” or “vitrified.” While the slow freezing technique takes hours, vitrification is completed nearly instantly, significantly reducing the chance that ice crystals will form and damage the cell.

Egg thawing, fertilization and embryo transfer

When you decide to use your frozen eggs in the future, the eggs will be thawed and fertilized the same day using an ICSI (sperm injection) procedure. Fertilization occurs when the egg and sperm join together to form an embryo. During ICSI, sperm are individually chosen and mechanically placed into an egg for fertilization.

 

Approximately 85% of eggs survive freezing and thawing, and approximately 70% of the surviving eggs will fertilize.

 

Once the eggs have been fertilized, they are placed in an incubator and monitored by our embryology team. After 3 or 5 days, a Mount Sinai Fertility Physician then transfers the fertilized eggs (embryos) to the patient. An ultrasound is used to see the uterus, and the embryos are placed in the uterus using a small catheter (tube) through the cervix.

Pregnancy risks

Birth defects

There is an increased risk of birth defects associated with pregnancy by IVF and ICSI. IVF treatment also includes other pregnancy risks including the chance of high blood pressured, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature delivery, operative delivery and having a small baby.

 

Other risks

Additionally, you should consider that becoming pregnant at a later age also carries risks including high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, premature delivery, cesarean birth and low birth weight.

When to consider egg freezing

If you plan on conceiving later in life, you may benefit from using eggs that are frozen now, while you are younger, instead of trying to conceive at an older age when egg quality is reduced and pregnancy rates from those eggs are lower.

 

Some patients choose egg freezing to focus on growing their career, achieving financial stability or finding a stable relationship. This choice allows them to worry less about the effect of age on fertility. The method also maintains the potential opportunity to be genetically related to your future child.

 

Egg freezing also benefits patients who have a medical condition known to reduce fertility over time, such as endometriosis or a family history of early menopause. You may also want to consider egg freezing if you will be undergoing ovarian surgery or before beginning a medication that may impair fertility.

 

While success rates have become much higher – egg freezing is still not a guarantee. About 85% of eggs will survive the freezing and thawing, and chances of pregnancy per egg is about 6.4%. Pregnancy rates per freezing cycle are on average 25%, but can range from less than 5% to higher than 60% depending on how old you are when your eggs are frozen and the number of eggs you freeze.

What are the steps involved?

Before starting treatment, you will meet with a Mount Sinai Fertility Physician or Nurse Practitioner for an initial consultation. We will discuss your goals for egg freezing, the procedure, and advise you on your likelihood of successfully becoming pregnant in the future from frozen-thawed eggs.

The procedure includes many steps:

Priming Prepares The Ovaries For Stimulation

Most cycles start with a preparation month called “priming.” Before you start any fertility medications, you will take either estrogen tablets or the birth control pill for 1 – 3 weeks to calm the ovaries. This helps to ensure the follicles develop at the same rate.

Ovaries Are Stimulated To Produce Multiple Eggs

After your priming month, you will take injectable fertility medications to stimulate your ovaries to produce and grow more mature eggs. Most people need to take injectable fertility medications every day for 9 to 12 days. During this time, we will do blood tests and internal (transvaginal) ultrasounds to track the development of the follicles in your ovaries. While taking the fertility medications, you will need to see us about 4 to 6 times. These appointments are scheduled in the early morning. You may be asked to return every one to two days until you are ready for the egg retrieval procedure. Once your follicles have developed to an appropriate size and number, you will be prescribed a medication that helps the developing eggs complete their maturation process. The timing of this medication is very important. Your fertility care team will give you specific instructions on the time to perform this injection.

Mature Eggs Are Removed From The Ovaries

The egg retrieval procedure is when eggs are removed from your ovaries using a needle and an internal ultrasound. The needle travels through a special cover attached to the internal ultrasound probe. It passes through the vagina and into each ovary. The follicles are drained and all the fluid sent to the lab. The embryologists working the in the lab carefully examine the fluid under the microscope to find the eggs. The doctor will give you sedative medications through an IV before the procedure begins, to help relax you and provide pain relief. While you will not be asleep, you should be comfortable. The procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, you will stay in our recovery area for about 1 hour before going home.

Eggs Are Frozen Using Vitrification Technology

The vitrification method of egg freezing addresses this key problem. Egg vitrification is a “flash freezing” method in which cells are immersed directly into liquid nitrogen, cooling them so quickly to -196ºC that they become “glass-like” or “vitrified.” While the slow freezing technique takes hours, vitrification is completed nearly instantly, significantly reducing the chance that ice crystals will form and damage the cell.

Egg thawing, fertilization and embryo transfer

When you decide to use your frozen eggs in the future, the eggs will be thawed and fertilized the same day using an ICSI (sperm injection) procedure. Fertilization occurs when the egg and sperm join together to form an embryo. During ICSI, sperm are individually chosen and mechanically placed into an egg for fertilization.

 

Approximately 85% of eggs survive freezing and thawing, and approximately 70% of the surviving eggs will fertilize.

 

Once the eggs have been fertilized, they are placed in an incubator and monitored by our embryology team. After 3 or 5 days, a Mount Sinai Fertility Physician then transfers the fertilized eggs (embryos) to the patient. An ultrasound is used to see the uterus, and the embryos are placed in the uterus using a small catheter (tube) through the cervix.

Pregnancy risks

Birth defects

There is an increased risk of birth defects associated with pregnancy by IVF and ICSI. IVF treatment also includes other pregnancy risks including the chance of high blood pressured, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature delivery, operative delivery and having a small baby.

 

Other risks

Additionally, you should consider that becoming pregnant at a later age also carries risks including high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, premature delivery, cesarean birth and low birth weight.

How much does egg freezing cost?

Visit our Fees page to learn more about the costs of egg freezing.