Q&A: the egg freezing process 

Shady Grove Fertility physician Tomer Singer, M.D., SGF New York Medical Director discusses the modern technological advancements in the field, what to expect during the egg freezing process, and why it’s a viable option for women who wish to preserve their fertility. 

Q: If I come in for a fertility testing during my period, do I have to start the egg freezing process right away, or do I have the option of waiting?

A: You are in complete control of your schedule. Typically, we do testing on day two or three of your menstrual cycle and then you meet with a physician for an in-person or via a telehealth call to go over the whole process which typically takes about 12-14 days. If you want to go right into treatment, or have a very busy schedule you may be prescribed birth control pills for few days/weeks to regulate your cycle as well as injectable medication to stimulate your ovaries and increase the number of eggs that your body will allow to mature.  

Q: Is it possible during the procedure for any of the eggs to be missed? And does that cause pain?

A: Our physicians utilize an ultrasound to guide the egg retrieval; so the chance for an egg to be missed is very small. 

Occasionally, liquid which is extracted during the procedure is released into the pelvis causing some pressure discomfort following the procedure and for couple of days thereafter  

Neither of these scenarios should cause severe pain for the patient. 

Q: If my eggs are stored at one of your locations, what type of security is in place? Will my eggs be safe?

A: Our SGF surgery centers are accredited centers (different accreditation agencies depending on the department of health requirement in each state) and every laboratory is protected by a firewall and other safety precautions including alarms, cameras, 24 hours video surveillance and the most advanced technological advancements. 

Q: What are the medication costs, and is it covered by insurance?

A: Medication cost varies, it ranges from $2,000 to $6,000 a cycle and it greatly depends on how your body will react to the medications. Age, body mass index (BMI), and ovarian reserve are all factors that contribute to the amount of medications you will need and the cost. Some insurances do cover medication, but it is dependent on the insurance plan. 

Q: How can you test for egg quality?

A: We can check using ovarian reserve testing (such as FSH and AMH blood tests), which evaluates hormone levels and determines the quantity and general egg quality; however; there is no true test to measure egg quality unless eggs were fertilized with sperm (of a partner or a sperm donor) and asses at the embryo stage (morphologically and chromosomally). 

Q: How quickly can I start treatment?

A: After your initial testing and physician consultation, you can begin treatment as soon as you are ready. 

Q: Do you recommend doing cycles back-to-back or could I take a break if needed?

A: While it is ideal to complete the first two cycles within 6 months to 1 year, it is OK to take a break as needed. It is time intensive and I encourage patients to have a few weeks in between to let their ovaries normalize. I certainly have patients who  travel nationally and internationally so we have seen many patients who completed 2-3 cycles back to back while others  finish one cycle and wait several months until the timing is favorable for them to cycle again. Whatever it takes to get that number we recommend, we could work within your parameters. 

Q: How long can eggs stay frozen before use?

A: The good news is that eggs can be frozen indefinitely with the new vitrification technology. However, our age cutoff for women returning to use their frozen eggs is a patient’s 51st birthday. 

Q: What makes SGF different than some of the other fertility centers who offer egg freezing?

A: The most important thing you should consider when choosing an egg freezing program is the experience the center has in thawing eggs and embryos, which can be seen in their success rates. The more experience the lab has had with thawing eggs as well as using the fast-freeze, vitrification technology, the better. 

Learn more about egg freezing at Shady Grove Fertility

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Editors Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for content accuracy and comprehensiveness as of July 2022.