Egg Freezing Process
How do I prepare for egg freezing?
If you've decided to freeze your eggs, the first step in the process is a consultation with one of PFC's physicians—who are all board certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI).
What kind of testing is performed for egg freezing?
Your physician will use fertility tests such as an antral follicle count (AFC) and a blood test for anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH). These tests help determine how many eggs remain (the ovarian reserve) in the ovaries' small sacs (follicles). Done by vaginal ultrasound, the AFC will give you a good sense of how many eggs you will produce. An AMH blood draw performed at PFC or through a company like Modern Fertility will confirm the ultrasound findings. While both these tests measure quantity of eggs, age is the best predictor of egg quality.
Next, you will meet with one of PFC's clinical coordinators to discuss lab work, consent forms, medication and your treatment calendar. The clinical coordinator will walk you through your treatment plan in detail, and provide you with clinical clearance to proceed. You will also have a complimentary meeting with a financial coordinator to discuss pricing and the payment process.
Women also have the option to meet with a Marriage and Family Therapist at PFC to discuss the risks and benefits of the egg freezing process. Fertility treatments is a financial as well as an emotional commitment and we want all patients to have a full understanding of this technology and their potential for success.
What is involved in the egg freezing process?
This process involves steps similar to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), beginning with a series of fertility medications to produce multiple eggs and then retrieving the eggs. Your physician will prescribe fertility medications to stimulate follicle growth and produce multiple eggs. Medications are injected subcutaneously (just beneath the skin) with a very fine needle. Our team is available to help you throughout the entire process. This phase of treatment lasts approximately 10-14 days.
Ultrasound monitoring and lab tests
A PFC physician will monitor you on a regular basis to assess follicle growth and the number of eggs being produced. When follicles are mature and ready for retrieval, you stop taking the fertility medication, and take an ovulation trigger, a hormone that brings on the final phase of egg maturation. Egg retrieval is scheduled 36 hours after the trigger. We retrieve the eggs from the ovaries with a fine needle 4 hours before the predicted time of ovulation, which would naturally occur about 40 hours after the hCG shot.
Egg retrieval procedure
This is a relatively brief procedure, during which your doctor will use ultrasound guidance to gently retrieve eggs from the ovarian follicles. You will be under sedation and in the care of an anesthesiologist throughout the procedure. The retrieval is performed in our clinic and takes approximately 15 minutes. We request to take the rest of the day easy while the sedation wears off and most patients are able to resume normal activity shortly after.
The retrieved eggs are preserved through a rapid freezing process called vitrification. The eggs may be kept frozen indefinitely so it is critically important that patients maintain annual contact with the clinic.
What happens when I am ready to use my frozen eggs?
When you decide you are ready to use your eggs, they will be thawed in the laboratory.
Thawed eggs are next fertilized in our laboratory using a procedure called Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) in which a single sperm is injected into each egg.
Once the eggs have been fertilized, they will remain in the laboratory for 3 to 7 days, growing and dividing, now called embryos. Not all fertilized eggs will divide to make embryos.
Your doctor will transfer the embryo into the uterus using a small insertion catheter. The transfer feels similar to a Pap smear and does not require anesthesia. The procedure takes about 15 minutes.
Re-Freezing of Excess Embryos
According to the decision you make with your physician, excess embryos may be re-frozen. Re-freezing the fertilized eggs (embryos) is safe and will make it possible to do another transfer if needed.
Want to learn more about egg freezing?
We invite you to schedule an egg freezing consultation with the San Francisco Bay Area's 'Top Docs' at Pacific Fertility Center®. We recommend that patients gather questions for the consultation beforehand, to make most of your appointment time.
We're here to answer your questions and to learn more about the process, you can sign up for a free webinar here.
Pacific Fertility Center is conveniently located in the San Francisco Bay Area, near many local Northern California communities. Schedule a consultation and experience the 'art of conception' at Pacific Fertility Center® »