How Long Can Eggs Be Stored For
On average, eggs can be stored in the UK for up to 10 years, but in some cases, such as if the patient became prematurely infertile due to medical treatments, some might be able to keep them frozen for up to 55 years.
In April 2020 the UK government announced it would review extending the storage limit for eggs, sperm and embryos by two years for those undergoing fertility treatment during the Coronavirus outbreak so that they have more time for treatment. After all, the current limit was decided in law over 31 years ago.
In the lead up to the review announcement, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said that the 10-year storage limit may discourage women from freezing eggs in their 20s, opting instead to do it in their 30s, when the quality of their eggs is reduced. If she is not ready by the 10-year limit, she will then have to decide whether to become a parent before she is ready, transfer her eggs to a fertility clinic outside of the UK if she can afford to do so, or have her eggs destroyed, the organisation noted.
The HFEA has described the current limit as too restrictive and proposes several conditions, including the patient providing new written consent to storage every 10 years and that a clinic offers the patient counselling before they consent to every additional 10 years storage.
If Theres Reason To Believe Youll Need Ivf In The Future
If you believe that one day you will need to do IVF, you should consider egg freezing. For some women with tubal blockage or scarring, or a partner with male factor infertility, the process of family building likely will be routed through an IVF clinic. As with any patient undergoing IVF, your likelihood for success decreases with age, assuming you are using fresh eggs. If you suffer from endometriosis, its not a lock you will need IVF, but youre more likely than the average woman to need it , and the same goes for women with PCOS.
This is a tough one. While its not the norm to use IVF, when a woman does need to undergo IVF in her late 30s or early 40s her success is very limited, and theres no good way to turn back the clock. There are a few numbers we think are interesting on the subject. In the chart below, you can see that of the total live births each year for women over 40, about 90% of them occur naturally.
But, and its a big but, there are many women who attempted to get pregnant through IVF, with their own eggs, in that age range, who failed. By our estimates, upwards of 20,000 – 30,000 patients over 40 attempt IVF in a given year with their own eggs , and those patients only get between 600 – 3,000 live births.
The Ideal Age For Egg Freezing
A ticking biological clock is the primary reason women choose to freeze their eggs. A womans fertility peaks during her 20s and starts to decline once she reaches 30. In fact, by the time a healthy woman reaches age 30, her chances of conceiving each month she tries is 20%. Once she reaches her 40th birthday, that percentage plummets to 5%. Women who are waiting to achieve personal or professional goals before achieving motherhood can turn to egg freezing as their fertility safety net.
Women who are at risk of premature ovarian failure due to a family history of early menopause, can also benefit from egg freezing.
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How Safe Is Egg Freezing
Overall egg freezing is safe, but some patients experience side effects from the fertility drugs, which can range from mild discomfort to more severe issues.
The HFEA states that the main risks of fertility treatment are:
- a multiple birth
- possible birth defects
It might be odd to think of multiple births as a serious health issues, but according to the authority, having more than one baby can cause serious harm to the health of mother and child, with at least half of twins born premature and underweight. Youre also more likely to have an early or late miscarriage if youre carrying multiple babies, the HFEA states.
When it comes to mothers, multiple births can result in high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, anaemia and occasionally haemorrhage. It is possible to reduce a womans chances of having a multiple birth if they choose an elective single embryo transfer , which involves transferring just one embryo into the womb instead of several as was previously common. All remaining embryos can be frozen and be used at a later date.
Its worth noting that eSET doesnt affect egg freezings success rate, but its not suitable for everyone.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
This is a reaction to the fertility medication and usually occurs around a week after egg collection. OHSS happens when a woman is hypersensitive to the drugs and develops too many eggs in the ovaries, which can result in them becoming enlarged and painful.
Should I Freeze My Eggs Top 5 Questions Answered
Freezing eggs allows women to preserve their fertility. Pregnancy and miscarriage rates remain at the rate of the age you are when you freeze your eggs, not at the rate of the age you are when you use them. The age of the eggs determines the pregnancy rate, the age of the womb doesnt alter the ability to carry a pregnancy.
Before we could egg freeze, if you were older or had few eggs, the only option was to use donor eggs from a relative, friend or a donor egg program or frozen egg bank. If a woman freezes her eggs when she is younger , she can act as her own egg donor, preserving her own younger eggs to use when she is older and ready to parent.
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Do All Women Use Their Eggs
Egg freezing has only been possible in the last decade when a new rapid freezing process called vitrification was developed. This method was able to protect fragile eggs from damage from ice crystals that used to form when the old slow freezing methods were used. This means that many women who have frozen their eggs over last 10 years may not yet be ready to use them.
So far it seems that about 20% of women that freeze their eggs have decided to use them. We do know that some women dont use their frozen eggs because they conceive naturally with their partner, because they decide to parent in ways that dont require their frozen eggs and some ultimately dont choose to parent. Many however have chosen to use their frozen eggs and there are many healthy babies that have been conceived through the use of frozen eggs.
You Might Need To Have The Procedure Many Times
Egg collection and freezing costs around £5,000 in the UK. Storage costs are extra around £150 to £400 a year.
Research suggests that women should seek to freeze around 15 eggs to have a reasonable chance of future pregnancy. However, the number of eggs collected during one cycle of stimulation and retrieval depends on the womans age at the time of undergoing the procedure, her remaining ovarian reserve, and how she responds to the stimulation. As such, some women may produce 15 eggs for storage after one round of treatment whereas others may need to undergo multiple rounds of stimulation and retrieval with the associated costs to collect and freeze the same number of eggs.
As well as being expensive, the process of egg freezing and IVF can often be emotionally and physically challenging. It is important to bear this in mind when considering freezing your eggs.
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What Are The Chances Of A Successful Pregnancy When I Decide To Use My Eggs
Chances of future pregnancy using your frozen eggs depend on lots of different factors, primarily your age at the time your eggs are frozen. As previously mentioned, the younger you are, the higher the quality of the eggs that are being preserved.
Pregnancy is also influenced by the number of eggs we retrieve, how successfully they survive the freeze-thaw process, how many are fertilised and how many quality embryos are available for transfer. We want to reassure you our highly skilled embryologists use the most advanced techniques and are very experienced in the egg freezing process resulting in over 80% freeze-thaw rate.
Depending on your age and medical history, we may advise you to consider IVF and freeze embryos instead. If needed, you can have IVF using donor sperm at Manchester Fertility, so you have embryos to freeze. All your options will be discussed during your consultation with our expert fertility specialist.
The Extend Fertility Approach To The Egg Freezing Age Limit
Here at Extend Fertility, we dont impose a strict age limit on egg freezing. We strongly encourage women to freeze before theyre 35 because thats when the procedure is most effective and valuable for the women undergoing them. And we actively work to educate younger womenwho experience a well-documented fertility knowledge gapabout their fertility timeline and their options, so they can make smart and proactive choices for their future.
However, because each womans circumstances and biology is different, our team has worked successfully with women in their late 30s and early 40s. There are two keys to freezing your eggs after age 35: freeze a larger number of eggs, and have a thorough understanding of the possible success rates.
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What Does Egg Freezing Involve
Before a woman goes ahead with egg freezing, they must first be tested for infectious diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis. Its important to note that while these diseases dont affect a womans eligibility to freeze her eggs, tests help inform medical experts whether some egg samples should be stored separately in order to prevent contamination.
Whats key for anybody considering IVF to know, is that it’s not just a case of going and store your eggs egg freezing requires a lot of time, commitment and several tests, notes Cutting, listing off doctor and nurses appointments, blood tests to check hormone levels, ovary scans and counselling sessions.
Following testing, the egg harvesting process begins, which involves a woman taking two types of medication one known as down-regulation which suppresses the body’s hormones to better control ovulation and another called a stimulation drug which boosts egg production and helps them mature. This means at least 10-14 days of hormone injections, up to three times a day, which a patient must administer themselves, in addition to regular blood tests at a clinic.
When it comes to the injections, Cutting describes them as like little diabetes pens, adding that while they arent difficult to use, the process is a commitment. You’ve got to carry the needles around with you, remember to administer the drugs at the same time every day and regularly visit your clinic to see how you’re responding to the medication.
The Golden Rule Of Egg Freezing
Egg freezing or oocyte cryopreservation is becoming more and more accepted among women. Oocyte preservation was once considered a complex process. With the availability of medical support and technology, egg freezing is now accessible. Today, tens of thousands of eggs are banked for future use. As a rule of thumb, the earlier a woman participates in egg freezing, the better. But does that mean the process will fail with older women?
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Why You Might Consider Freezing Your Eggs
Aging isnt the only reason to consider egg freezing. Several other conditions can also affect the quantity and quality of your eggs. These may include:
- Gender diversity treatments
- Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus
- Chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer or other illnesses
When you freeze your eggs, you give yourself the option of preserving them for future use. Many women also prefer egg freezing to embryo freezing due to ethical or religious considerations.
Why Choose To Freeze Eggs For Non
The most common reasons to choose elective egg freezing include:
- Career or educational goals
- Ethical issues with embryo freezing
- Lifestyle or travel plans
- Not having found the right partner
Personally and professionally, I definitely think that egg freezing is a great idea for anyone who is considering having children in the future but is not currently interested or able to conceive now, says Diana Chavkin, MD, a board-certified fertility specialist who currently sees patients for egg freezing/fertility preservation and infertility at HRC Fertility in Los Angeles.
Dr. Chavkin has used her expertise to help develop fertility preservation programs across the country, and she has helped hundreds of women through the egg freezing process since 2009.
On a personal note, I convinced my sister and helped my best friend to freeze their eggs, shares Dr. Chavkin. It is definitely something that Id do myself. In fact, I had to do IVF to have my 1-year-old child, and at the time that I was having a difficult time getting pregnant, I wished that I had frozen my eggs years before.
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Is Egg Freezing Safe
There are some known and unknown risks to egg freezing. The risks are similar to those infertile couples face when they go through IVF treatment and people who become egg donors.
We cant know all the long-term risks to egg freezing because it just hasnt been studied. The technology hasnt been around long enough. There are few studies on people with good fertility who have chosen to freeze their eggs long term and few studies on children who were conceived via previously frozen eggs.
This is what we do know: Egg freezing does not seem to increase the risk of congenital birth diseases.
In a study of 936 children who were conceived from previously cryopreserved eggs, the rate of genetic birth defects was found to be similar to the general population risk. This study included children conceived both via eggs cryopreserved with the slower, older methods of egg freezing and the newer, vitrification technology.
We dont know whether child development or later adult health is impacted by cryopreservation of eggs. More time and studies are needed.
In the short term, people who decide to freeze their eggs may experience side effects of the fertility drugs. Depending on which fertility drugs are used, side effects may include hot flashes, headaches, mood swings, bloating, nausea, weight gain, breast tenderness, spotting, and injection site soreness.
What Is The Cost Of Freezing Eggs
Elective egg freezing is expensive as Medicare does not reimburse costs in the way Medicare reimburses some of the costs of an IVF cycle when a couple have infertility. Not having a Medicare rebate means that the drugs used to stimulate the eggs development are not subsidised and the private health insurance rebates for admission to hospital for the egg retrieval are not covered.
This means that elective egg freezing costs approximately $10,000 per cycle. In addition to this, there are annual storage costs until the eggs are to be used and this is $400 per year approximately.
If youve been with your partner for a long time, but arent ready for kids yet, its also possible to have embryos frozen which have a higher success rate.
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What Can I Do If Im Over 40
Women over 40 may try assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization . Treatments like IVF combine an egg and sperm in a laboratory setting and implant an embryo into a womans uterus. While fertility does decline with age, many women in the 40+ age group have success with fertility treatments. For more information and personalized treatment options, speak with a fertility specialist.
Whats The Best Age To Freeze Your Eggs
Deciding when to freeze your eggs is incredibly difficult, because its just not as simple as the younger, the better.
If youre thinking about freezing your eggs, the HFEA states that it’s best to do it before your 35th birthday. This is if you want the highest chance of success compared to trying to conceive naturally, particularly after the age of 40.
The most important thing to think about when you think of eggs is a woman’s age, emphasises Cutting. It’s not the age of the woman when an embryo goes back into the body that’s crucial, rather the age of the egg when it was collected.
‘The average age of women opting for
egg freezing is 38.’
But in reality, the idea of collecting eggs from a very young woman and expecting her to be able to use them to become pregnant if she only feels ready many years later, is injudicious. In fact, the average age of women opting for egg freezing is 38. The majority of women prefer to freeze their eggs later in life for several reasons: the younger you are when you freeze your eggs the less likely youre going to use them as you might conceive naturally and most women in their 20s and 30s dont have the finances to freeze eggs in the first place.
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How Does The Egg Freezing Process Work
“Egg freezing, which is also called mature oocyte cryopreservation, is the process of harvesting eggs from your ovaries and freezing them until you are ready to try to get pregnant,” explains Dr. Mundy.
To retrieve your eggs, you first undergo about 10 days of hormone injections. This part of the process is similar to preparing for in vitro fertilization .
“The hormones injected are fertility drugs that stimulate ovulation and help your ovaries mature several eggs at once, instead of just one,” says Dr. Mundy. “Mature eggs are then collected through a painless procedure performed while you are sedated. It’s best if at least 10 eggs can be harvested.”
Once retrieved, the eggs are flash frozen and stored at ultra-cold temperatures.
When you are ready to try for pregnancy, the eggs are thawed and combined with sperm. Any embryos that develop are then transferred to the uterus for implantation.