Stephanie Beall, M.D., Ph.D., of SGF’s Towson, MD and Columbia, MD offices answers the most common questions patients ask about egg freezing.
Q: What are the success rates for egg freezing?
Dr. Beall: For women younger than 38, we recommend freezing 15 to 20 mature eggs, which is estimated to provide a 70 to 80 percent chance of at least one live birth. For women 38 to 40 years old, we recommend freezing 25 to 30 mature eggs, giving a 65 to 75 percent chance of at least one live birth.
In a recently published study, SGF assessed the performance of 1,171 egg freezing cycles for 875 women. At the time of the study, 117 of these women had returned to undergo 128 egg thaw cycles, using a total of 1,283 frozen eggs.
The results from these 128 egg thaw cycles included 51 viable pregnancies, resulting in 55 children and 8 more on the way at the time of the study (12 of the pregnancies were twins). In addition, 62 good quality blastocysts remain in storage from these cycles for future attempts. SGF is one of the only fertility centers in the U.S. with published egg freezing pregnancy data.
Q: How many eggs would you recommend I freeze if I want to have, say, 2 children?
Dr. Beall: A lot of this depends on the age in which a woman freezes her eggs and her ovarian reserve function. We recommend that women 37 years or younger who have excellent ovarian function freeze between 15 to 20 mature eggs, which is estimated to provide a 30-50 percent chance of two live births. For women over 38, or women at any age with diminished ovarian function, we recommend freezing 25 to 30 eggs. This would give a 30-40% chance of two live births.
Q: What is the technique used at SGF for freezing eggs?
Dr. Beall: The technology used for egg freezing is vitrification, known as “fast freeze” cryopreservation. While many fertility centers have adopted this technology, the skill and precision of the technicians is of utmost importance. As the largest fertility center in the county, we have many years of experience in freezing and thawing both eggs and embryos. This is an important consideration when selecting a fertility center.
Q: Is there an age restriction on when I can use my eggs?
Dr. Beall: Technically, once the eggs are placed in the liquid nitrogen, they are essentially suspended in time. For example, if a woman freezes her eggs at the age of 30 and comes back to use them in 5 years, they will be the same quality as when she froze them at age 30. At SGF, the latest a woman can come back to use her frozen eggs is 50 years of age.
Q: How do I prepare my body for egg freezing?
Dr. Beall: You are put on birth control pills to manipulate your cycle based on when you want your egg retrieval to take place. Upon selecting a retrieval week, we can work backwards to select a start date. Upon the start of your menstrual cycle, you will initiate daily injectable medications. The medications are higher doses of the natural hormones that your body produces to mature one egg. Our goal is to stimulate many eggs (that your body would do naturally) in order to freeze. During this time, you will come to SGF for monitoring appointments, which include bloodwork and ultrasound to ensure follicles are growing appropriately and to change medication dosages, if necessary. At the end of the stimulation period, you will get a trigger injection. This injection helps the eggs mature.
Q: If I live out of state, can I still freeze my eggs at SGF?
Dr. Beall: Yes. If you have had previous testing, then you would be scheduled to have a phone consult with one of our physicians. If you have not had previous testing, we would arrange for you to have testing done closer to home, scheduled in a way so that we can get results back in a timely fashion. Once you complete the phone consult, we would have you come in for an in-person appointment with the physician, financial counselor, and nurse. The next time you come in would be when you are actually cycling. All monitoring appointments can be done at a local fertility center closer to home.
Q: Are their financial programs that help make egg freezing more affordable?
Dr. Beall: Diagnostic or ovarian reserve testing, as well as a physician consultation, is largely covered by SGF’s 30+ participating insurance companies. In fact, approximately 90 percent of our elective egg-freezing patients have coverage for this part of the process. If you choose to pursue egg freezing, SGF offers several egg freezing financial programs.
To learn more about our egg freezing program, we offer monthly in-person seminars and virtual webinars. All events are complimentary and all interested parties must register to attend. View our calendar of events to sign-up for our next egg freezing event.