Egg freezing and storage

Preserve your fertility with egg freezing.

If you aren’t quite ready to start your family, or if you are having medical treatment which could affect your fertility, freezing your eggs can give you the reassurance you need. Egg quality declines as you grow older, so if you are considering having a baby in the future, but not just now, it’s best to freeze your eggs before you are 35.

What is egg freezing?

Egg freezing is a process in which a woman's eggs are collected, frozen and stored to help preserve her fertility. The technique used to freeze eggs has advanced greatly over recent years with significantly improved success rates of eggs surviving the freeze/thaw process, fertilising and resulting in a baby.

It is well known that age negatively affects a woman’s fertility. Fertility begins to decline as a woman approaches 30, and decreases very rapidly after age 35. Every woman is born with a limited supply of eggs (ovarian reserve) and, over time, the quantity and quality of her eggs are constantly decreasing, making it more difficult to achieve a healthy pregnancy. Freezing eggs offers women a way to preserve their fertility so they retain the potential to have healthy babies when the time is right for them.

Hundreds of babies have been born worldwide using frozen and thawed mature eggs, and we're one of the first clinics in the UK to have introduced a super-cooling technique for egg freezing called vitrification, which substantially improves egg survival rates. Over 85% of eggs undergoing this vitrification technique survive the freeze-thaw process.

Could freezing my eggs be right for me?

There are lots of reasons why you might want to preserve your fertility. Most commonly, you’ll be thinking of freezing your eggs because:

  • You’re not quite ready to start a family, but you understand it might become more difficult as you get older
  • You’re concerned about the risks associated with having a family when you’re older, such as miscarriage and genetic conditions
  • You are having medical treatment such as chemotherapy which may affect your fertility
  • You suffer from a condition that could affect your eggs, or make you less able to use them in the future

Ultimately, egg freezing is a good option if you think you might want to start or grow your family in the future and would like to preserve your fertility, just in case. If you’re unsure whether freezing your eggs is for you, we’d be happy to help; talk to your local CARE Fertility clinic.

 

What does egg freezing involve?

Initial Consultation

The first step in your egg freezing journey is to schedule an initial consultation. During the consultation, your doctor will give you individualised information based on your medical history, an assessment of your ovarian reserve and your family-building goals, that will help you decide whether freezing eggs is right for you.

 

Stimulating your ovaries 

Ovarian stimulation is carried out in the same way as IVF. Fertility drugs are used to stimulate your ovaries, this maximises the number of eggs you will produce in your cycle for us to collect and store for you. 

 

Monitoring

During the stimulation phase of your treatment, we monitor your progress closely to establish exactly when is the best time for your eggs to be collected. The monitoring phase will last several days, the exact number of days will vary for each person and will depend on how many follicles containing eggs are available and how fast they grow. A typical monitoring phase is 3-7 days.

 

Egg collection

This is a straightforward procedure, taking less than 30 minutes, which is performed with sedation or local anaesthetic and pain relief. To collect the eggs, we pass a scan probe into the vagina and use ultrasound to guide a needle into one of the ovaries. We then aspirate eggs from the available ovarian follicles. It’s normal to feel a few twinges during collection, but it isn’t painful. After collection, we recommend you have a short rest before going home.

 

Freezing your eggs

We then carefully prepare your eggs for freezing by placing them into a special preservation medium. Those suitable will be frozen for possible future use. 

 

We will explain each stage of the process carefully and will let you know how many eggs are being frozen when we’re done. 

How much does egg freezing cost?

You have the option of either a single egg freezing cycle or our EGGsafe package. With this package we aim to store and keep 20 eggs for you. These can be collected over up to four egg collection procedures which can be spread out over several months.

Freezing and storage
Prices include collection and storage. The duration of storage included in the price will vary by clinic.
EGGsafe - multicycle £5,100–£5,650
Egg preservation - one cycle £3,050–£3,710
Sperm freezing £350-£475

 

Thawing for treatment

Egg thaw, culture and transfer (includes ICSI) £3,100–£3,300
Embryo thaw and transfer £1,725

How successful is egg freezing?

Over 85% of eggs undergoing the vitrification technique survive the freeze-thaw process, and many of these can be used in treatment. Results, as with IVF, depend on a number of individual factors including the quality of the frozen eggs. That's partly why we recommend freezing 20 eggs. This number has been calculated based on our experience and worldwide data. We consider that this will give a high and realistic chance of having a baby in the future, when you are ready.

Emily talks about freezing her eggs

After having my eggs frozen, I have that plan B

Emily
CARE Nottingham patient

How long can my eggs be stored for?

The standard storage period for eggs is 10 years, but there may be circumstances in which your eggs can be stored for longer (e.g.for those women at risk of becoming prematurely infertile due to medical reasons).

What happens when I want to use my eggs?

If you decide that you want to use your frozen eggs to have a baby, a treatment plan in devised for you. Your eggs are thawed in the embryology lab, using special warming solutions. They are then fertilised with sperm (either your partner’s or donor sperm) to create embryos.

At the appropriate time, your embryos will be transferred to your uterus in a straightforward non-surgical procedure. Your doctor will use ultrasound guidance to insert a soft catheter through the cervix and into the uterus. The embryo or embryos pass through the catheter and into your uterus, where hopefully, one will implant.

After a period of approximately 2 weeks you will take a pregnancy test.

For more information about egg freezing, get in touch with your local clinic or book a consultation.