During every cycle, eggs grow in fluid filled sacs (called follicles) on the ovaries. Only one egg will mature and be released (through ovulation), while the rest will be naturally reabsorbed. The egg freezing process, as with an IVF cycle, helps more eggs to mature.
To do this, you’ll undertake a series of hormone medications to help stimulate your ovaries for around 10-12 days. Your fertility specialist will discuss the best medications and stimulation techniques for you.
Generally, stimulation is by giving yourself hormone injections using a tiny needle under the skin. Don’t worry, it’s not scary, and your fertility nurse will help you through the process. During the stimulation period, you’ll be monitored via blood tests and ultrasounds.
When your eggs are ready to be collected, you’ll visit day surgery for a short procedure. You’ll be asleep, so you won’t feel a thing. The procedure itself takes around 10-15 minutes and you can usually go home in 1-2 hours.
Your fertility specialist will extract the fluid from the follicles on your ovaries, which contains your eggs. The eggs are extracted vaginally by your fertility specialist, so there are no cuts or scars.
As with any procedure under anaesthetic, you might feel tired or groggy. Bring a support person as you won’t be able to drive.
Once your eggs have been collected, your fertility doctor passes them directly to our scientists. These skilled scientists identify the mature eggs to be frozen; only mature eggs are frozen as immature eggs don’t create viable pregnancies in future.
The eggs are then frozen in the lab using a method called vitrification, or snap freezing. The fluid is removed from the eggs to prevent damage when they are frozen.
Scientifically, there’s no time limit on how long eggs can stay frozen. However state based legislation may impose statutory storage limits for the storage of eggs.
She shared her egg freezing journey with us.
Did you find the egg collection process / procedure difficult?
No, not at all. I guess once I’d made the decision to proceed, I was really process driven. It was a rational, conscious and preventative decision for me, so it actually gave me a sense of relief to start the process. Although, in saying that, the first injection was so scary! I’m not great with needles… but it honestly was nothing and it was fine after that.
The eggs stimulated to grow would have grown or died during your natural cycle that month. The stimulation mimics your body’s natural processes. It doesn’t affect future egg supply or lead to premature menopause.