If you’ve ever thought “I want to freeze my eggs,” but are not sure how many to freeze or if it’s a reliable option for the cost Dr. Joseph Doyle from the SGF Rockville office answers these questions and more. In this Q&A, Dr. Doyle explains everything about egg freezing from the various factors that contribute to having a baby using frozen eggs, to the appropriate age to consider freezing, to how many eggs you should freeze to freeze in order to have a baby in the future. Read the Q&A below:
Q: What factors contribute to egg freezing and lead to successful pregnancy?
Dr. Doyle: Each case is unique and each woman has her own timeline for building a family. However, three factors influence egg freezing success, no matter the circumstances. They are:
- Age: Your age and the results of your ovarian reserve testing will help determine the number of eggs you should freeze.
- Ovarian function: Your ovarian function will show if you are facing infertility challenges, which could affect the number of suggested eggs for freezing. Also, your test results can give us a better idea of how quickly we need to move forward with egg freezing. If the test suggests that your ovarian reserve is low, proceeding earlier confers greater benefit.
- Number of eggs that are frozen
Q: At what age should I freeze my eggs?
Dr. Doyle: You may have heard of cryopreservation as it applies to embryos, but the same process can be applied to unfertilized eggs.
Age is the number one factor that determines fertility—as you age, so do your eggs. You’re born with a finite number of eggs, and younger eggs are of a better genetic quality. The better the genetic quality of an egg, the higher the probability that egg will result in a successful pregnancy. In a sense, egg freezing allows you to pause your biological clock.
We usually suggest against freezing eggs too early (younger than 30). The reason is simple: If you freeze eggs too early, it’s less likely you’ll use them. In such a case, you’ve spent time and money on a procedure that wasn’t necessary. Of course, there are exceptions. For example, if you are facing cancer treatments that may affect your fertility in your 20s, or you will be deployed (or otherwise not able to pursue family building as a result of other goals) into your early 30s, we may recommend freezing your eggs at a younger age.
The optimal time for a fertile woman to freeze her eggs is in her early- to mid-30s.
Q: How many eggs should I freeze to guarantee a future baby?
Dr. Doyle: Based on our thaw data reported in Fertility and Sterility:
- If you are younger than 38, freezing 15 to 20 mature eggs will give you roughly a 70 to 80 percent chance of at least one live birth.
- If you are 38 to 40 years old, freezing 25 to 30 mature eggs is recommended for a 65 to 75 percent chance of at least one live birth.
There is no magic number of frozen eggs that will result in a 100 percent guarantee of a successful pregnancy. While success rates continue to improve, other factors—including deficiency in egg quality and implantation issues—will always be at play.
But the above findings, in addition to your ovarian reserve test results, provide a guideline for determining how many eggs you should freeze to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
Q: Are there benefits to freezing my eggs earlier, rather than later?
Dr. Doyle: In short, yes. The possible benefits of freezing your eggs earlier include:
- Fewer cycles needed to reach your desired number of eggs, as the younger you are, the higher number of quality eggs we are likely to extract and the fewer eggs we need to extract in total
- Fewer cycles mean the overall process is less expensive
- Higher likelihood you’ll take home your baby, since the higher the quality of your egg when it’s frozen means the higher the quality it is at thawing and implantation
Q: Does it matter where I freeze my eggs?
Dr. Doyle: Again, the answer is yes. Fertility centers that perform more egg freezing and subsequent in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles that result in successful pregnancies have better, more reliable data to help you make the best decisions for your family building.
In 2009, we began using a flash-freezing process, called vitrification, for patients who were facing cancer treatments that could affect their future fertility. Initially, this was used in the process for women who donated their eggs in their 20s to women in their 40s. It quickly became the standard for women who are electing to freeze their eggs for future use.
Vitrification allows us to more safely freeze and thaw eggs for implantation. Since 2009, we have completed multiple freeze cycles daily, giving us reliable thaw data we can use to help you make well-informed family-building decisions.
Q: Finally, is it possible to freeze too many eggs?
Dr. Doyle: Safety is a top priority during the egg freezing process, which means avoiding ovarian hyperstimulation. We don’t want your ovaries overworked, instead we want to stimulate your ovaries just enough to produce a recommended number of eggs for freezing. We use all available research to determine a number tailored to suit your age and ovarian reserve.
In prescribing the perfect number of eggs for you to freeze, we also consider your family-building goals. If these goals include having more than one child, we may recommend a freezing count closer to the top of the suggested range for your age, as this increases the likelihood of successfully having two or more children.
To learn more about egg freezing or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Doyle or any of our other 38 fertility specialists, call 1-877-411-9292.
At Shady Grove Fertility, we’re here to give you the caring support you deserve as you start or grow your family. As a leading fertility and IVF center of excellence, we offer patients individualized care, innovative financial options, over 30 accepted insurance plans, and pregnancy rates among the highest of all national centers. We offer patients the convenience of 19 full-service and 6 satellite locations across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. More than 1,700 physicians choose Shady Grove Fertility to refer their patients, and more than 96 percent of our patients say they would recommend Shady Grove Fertility’s 35+ physicians to a friend. With 10 Shady Grove Fertility babies born each day, your dream of starting or growing your family is within reach.