Egg freezing

Egg freezing, also known as mature oocyte cryopreservation, is a method used to preserve a woman's reproductive potential.

Eggs are harvested from your ovaries, frozen unfertilized and stored for later use. A frozen egg can be thawed, combined with sperm in a lab and implanted in your uterus (in vitro fertilization).

However, only a small portion of eggs that are frozen, thawed and implanted result in the birth of a baby. Egg freezing can also be expensive.

Your doctor can help you understand how egg freezing works, the potential risks and whether this method of fertility preservation is right for you.

Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Egg freezing might be an option if you're not ready to become pregnant now but want to try to ensure your ability to get pregnant or have a biological child in the future.

Unlike with fertilized egg freezing (embryo cryopreservation), egg freezing doesn't require a participating male partner or use of a sperm donor because the eggs won't be fertilized before they're frozen. Just as with embryo freezing, however, you'll need to use fertility drugs to induce ovulation so that you'll produce multiple eggs for retrieval.

You might consider egg freezing if:

  • You're about to undergo cancer treatment. Certain cancer treatments — such as radiation or chemotherapy — can harm your fertility. Egg freezing before treatment might allow you to have biological children at a later date.
  • You're undergoing in vitro fertilization. If your partner isn't able to produce sufficient sperm on the day you have your eggs retrieved, egg freezing might be needed. When undergoing in vitro fertilization, some people prefer egg freezing to embryo freezing for religious or ethical reasons.

Egg freezing might be appealing if you're concerned about age-related infertility, but the method isn't recommended for this purpose due to the risks, costs and limited success rates.

You can use your frozen eggs to try to conceive a biological child with sperm from a partner or a sperm donor. A donor can be known or anonymous. The embryo can also be implanted in the uterus of a gestational carrier.

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