Causes & Treatment

All about egg freezing – 5 questions to ask, with CRGH

Eloise Edington  |  11 Nov 2022


Fertility Help

At Fertility Help Hub, we’ve noticed the popularity of egg freezing for fertility preservation is soaring. So much so, the HFEA reported the number of women freezing their eggs doubled between 2013 and 2018 – a trend that continues to grow.

Today, Dr Vidya Seshadri, specialist in Reproductive Medicine and Head of Research and Clinical Development at The Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health (CRGH), shares her expert knowledge of what you need to know about egg freezing. Dr Seshadri works with patients at CRGH looking to preserve their fertility, as well as those looking to start a family through fertility treatment.  

Read on to learn all about egg freezing, who might consider it, and how it works. 

Over to Dr Seshadri.

1 Tell me about egg freezing – is it for me?

Egg freezing is an increasingly attractive option for fertility preservation for those who are not ready to start a family immediately but want to ensure they have the best chances in the future.

As well as those who choose to preserve their fertility for social reasons, egg freezing is also an important option for those with underlying medical conditions such as cancer, or people undergoing gender transition who may want to start a family at a later date.

Some employers in the UK have also started following the lead of US counterparts by offering fertility treatment as an employee benefit – ensuring their staff are empowered to think about egg freezing, and don’t feel the need to choose between their career or starting a family. 

Fertility Help

CRGH has partnered with Carrot who work with some of the UK’s biggest employers to offer egg freezing as a work perk.  We expect fertility-preservation employee benefits like this to continue in coming years.

2 Who should consider freezing their eggs?

More people than ever are asking about egg freezing, and choosing to go for it. This is for a number of reasons such as the increased social awareness around reproductive choice as well as a social trend in delaying the age someone embarks on motherhood.

Egg quality steadily declines as a patient becomes older. By choosing to freeze eggs at a point where egg quality is optimal, patients can be reassured that they have the best chance of a successful pregnancy if and when they decide to use those eggs.

Patient choice is an integral part of modern medicine and egg freezing ensures patients have the broadest choice of options when they decide to begin building a family.

The benefit of freezing eggs at an early age is the patient can try to conceive naturally when they want to start a family with the “insurance” they have high-quality eggs to use if needed.

3 What’s the process of egg freezing?

  • Initial consultation at a clinic of your choice. (When choosing a clinic, it’s important to consider the clinic’s success rates for fertility treatment using frozen eggs).

During an initial consultation you will discuss your previous medical and fertility history. Depending on the medical history and the circumstances, the clinician will be able to advise on how suitable egg freezing is for you.

 

  • Initial tests. These help the consultant determine the number of eggs a patient can aim to have collected and the medication required to achieve that goal. 

 

  • Hormonal injections. Egg freezing is usually straightforward and typically involves using hormonal injections from day 2 of the period until the eggs are ready for collection (which is usually around day 14 of the menstrual cycle – though this can vary between women depending on the length of their menstrual cycle).

 

  • Egg collection. Eggs are retrieved through a transvaginal procedure under light sedation. The embryologist then confirms the number of mature eggs obtained which are then vitrified (a method of freezing). 

 

  • Egg freezing. You’re done! The eggs are safely stored in the freezer for use at a later date.

4 Any lifestyle factors I should know about?

I advise all patients thinking about egg freezing to focus on their diet, nutrition, supplements and lifestyle factors prior to treatment. These elements all contribute to the quality of the eggs and it’s important we collect the best quality possible at time of treatment.

The official storage limit for eggs is currently 10 years (as per HFEA guidelines), however the government recently announced the storage limit for eggs will increase to 55 years because this extended time frame gives individuals a greater choice over when to start a family.

Storage limits also vary for those who have frozen eggs for medical reasons.

5 What are the risks of egg freezing?

While egg freezing is a simple and safe process, as with all medical procedures there are some risks which need to be considered. The clinician will usually outline the risks of the journey, including venous thromboembolism, ovarian hyperstimulation and surgical complications of the egg retrieval procedure, to name a few.

Similarly, while success rates using frozen eggs are high (particularly at CRGH) – there is no guarantee of a successful pregnancy using frozen eggs. Your consultant will help you understand the costs and benefits of egg freezing so you can make an informed decision.

We know that medical treatment is a lot more bearable when we’re informed and Dr Seshadri has certainly explained whether you should consider egg freezing and the process.

If you are considering egg freezing or want to understand if it may be a good option for you, Dr Seshadri is currently available for consultations bookable via CRGH.

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