Did it just get cold in here? Yep – it’s time to talk about freezing your eggs. If you’re not 100% sold on the whole parenthood thing, or you think you do want to be a parent – just not in the next few years, you can quite literally put your fertility on ice. But what does the process involve? How much does it cost? And when should you think about getting it done?
To help shed light on the topic of egg freezing, we’ve partnered with Genea to break down everything you need to know.
Why would you want to freeze your eggs?
When it comes to putting your eggs on ice, there are a few reasons why it could be a good idea:
You may want children at a later stage in life
For many women, our mid-twenties to early thirties (aka peak baby-making time!) isn’t necessarily when we would all want to start a family. Whether it is due to your career, relationship status, travel aspirations, finances or just not quite having the desire to have kids yet – there are lots of reasons why waiting is a good idea.
However, time isn’t always on our side with female fertility typically declining with age. Especially after the age of 35, it can become more difficult to fall pregnant without medical intervention. Luckily, freezing your eggs preserves them at the age you chose to freeze them, giving you a high chance of better quality eggs for use, if you need them, later in life if infertility strikes.
You have a medical condition that could affect your fertility
No one likes to think about it, but if you do unfortunately discover a condition that could affect your fertility – egg freezing can be one way to preserve your fertility. Certain medical treatments like radiation or chemotherapy can also harm your fertility, so ideally it’s a good idea to undergo egg freezing before these treatments begin, where possible. A Fertility Specialist is best to provide advice and assess your individual circumstances.
You’re already undergoing In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
If you’re already going through the IVF process, you will likely want to consider freezing any extra eggs or embryos for future use. While it is very common to freeze embryos so you don’t need to go through another egg collection cycle and the fertilisation process again – some people prefer to freeze eggs (oocytes or unfertilised eggs) instead for personal or religious reasons. It is an important consideration which one to freeze as embryos are the property of the couple who fertilised them, however, oocytes belong to the female.
Steps involved in egg freezing
(A little disclaimer – this process is based on what we learnt when we recently had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of a Genea clinic – so depending on where you go for your treatment, the process may look a little different!)
Freezing your eggs is a relatively straightforward process. Once you’ve decided you’d like to freeze your eggs, you will begin taking fertility medication that essentially puts your ovaries into overdrive mode – so they can produce more eggs than in a normal cycle.
Your eggs will then be monitored through blood tests and ultrasound as you continue to take the fertility medicine until they are ready to be collected. On the day of collection, your Fertility Specialist will view your ovaries and follicles using ultrasound and then retrieve your eggs using a very small needle. The process only takes around 20 minutes and is typically done with a local anaesthetic and light sedation. While it’s a short procedure – it is still recommended that you take the day off from work to recover.
Let’s talk vitrification
Vitrification – aka snap freezing – is the process used to freeze eggs. At Genea, they actually use Gavi®, the world’s first automated vitrification instrument to freeze eggs and embryos. Traditionally egg freezing was done by hand – but since things like timing, handling and temperature can all affect eggs and embryos, automating the key stages of freezing means that the eggs and embryos are consistently snap frozen.
Once frozen, your eggs are stored safe and sound in Gavi pods until you decide if you need them in the future.
What about the costs?
Egg freezing is unfortunately one of those things where it differs so much from person to person – and costs will also differ from clinic to clinic. If you do have a condition that is affecting your fertility (e.g. severe endometriosis) you may receive a Medicare rebate to cover some of the costs. Or, if you have private health insurance, it is a good idea to look into if they cover egg freezing and how much you can claim.
Egg freezing is an amazing feat of modern science as it can give women more options and peace of mind when it comes to their fertility journeys. Hopefully, this breakdown has given you a little insight into the egg freezing process and what you can expect, in case you’re ever curious about it in the future!
This is a paid partnership between Kiindred x Genea.