There has been a dramatic improvement in the technique of egg freezing since the introduction of ‘Vitrification’ – the fast freezing of eggs. This has given great hope for women who need to freeze their eggs for medical or social reasons.
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Egg freezing is a good way to preserve fertility, and allows women to use these younger fresher eggs at a later date. The procedure involves medication to stimulate the ovaries, similar to the process prior to an IVF cycle and when the eggs have matured, they are then collected via a thin catheter and then vitrified for future use.
Egg Freezing Explained
Women are born with all of their eggs, and as the woman ages so do her eggs, and after the age of 35 there is a marked decline in fertility as the body clings on to the depleting supply. Maternal age plays a big factor in a women’s ability to conceive.
Some women decide to electively freeze their eggs because they are focussing on their career and realise that these are their fertile years and do this as insurance policy for when they are ready to start a family. It may also be because they haven’t yet met the right partner. For some women, the decision to freeze eggs is for medical reasons, such as a cancer diagnosis where treatment could leave them infertile.
To start the procedure, you will be screened for infectious diseases, this will not impact whether or not you can freeze your eggs, but does determine how your eggs are stored. You will then start of ovulation stimulating medication to help your eggs mature, an ultra sound scan will show how your follicles are developing and from that a date for egg retrieval can be scheduled. This is usually within 3 weeks from starting the medication. There is a risk of over stimulating your ovaries, so please be aware of the side effects.
Your eggs are collected under a light sedation and is a relatively painless procedure, you may experience some cramping and may feel bloated from the medication.
The collected eggs (typically around 15 eggs, but can vary from patient to patient) are then frozen and stored for when you are ready to complete the next stage of the IVF process.
You can expect to pay around £4000 for the egg collection procedure, and then medication can range from £1000 – £2000. Storage of your eggs is charged per year and is around £300 per annum. The majority of clinics will store your eggs for 10 years. Bearing in mind, that even with younger eggs, the risk with pregnancy increases in your 40’s and most clinics will only perform IVF up until your 50th birthday, some may treat you later, please check with your chosen IVF provider before you start the procedure.
Once you are ready to use your frozen eggs, you can expect to pay a further £3000 for the IVF procedure to defrost your eggs and inject with your partner or donor’s sperm.
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