This or that: myths about egg freezing

Maybe she is in the midst of establishing her career. Maybe she is facing a serious health issue that may impact her fertility. Maybe she simply hasn’t found a suitable partner.

Women may consider freezing their eggs for a variety of reasons in an effort to preserve their fertility. Researching and making that decision can be daunting, and as with nearly all topics related to fertility filled with myths, misinformation and conflicting reports. Should you believe this, or should you believe that? We walk you through a few of the most common conflicting reports here:

This: It’s easy.

That: it’s difficult and risky.

While no procedure is entirely without risks, egg collection is considered a minor surgery. Perspective is everything. Understanding the process is key to gaining perspective. Here’s how it works:

After consultation and careful planning, the timing of the egg retrieval cycle will be identified and scheduled. In preparation for the retrieval, the woman will begin daily injections of hormones aimed at helping the follicles in her ovaries produce the maximum number of mature eggs in that cycle. The doctor will carefully monitor hormone levels and follicle maturity throughout this stage of the process.

Once follicles have reached peak growth and are ready to release mature eggs, a trigger shot will be administered. Within 36 hours, eggs will be surgically retrieved. The retrieval process typically lasts less than an hour and is performed as an outpatient procedure under general or local anesthesia.

In the procedure, the doctor uses a needle inserted through the vagina to extract mature eggs from each follicle. Most women who undergo the procedure are back to normal activities the next day with little or no discomfort.

For more detail, this step-by-step guide from Fertility IQ is very helpful in understanding the process from beginning to end.

This: It’s fool proof.

That: Fresh is better.

So once a woman has had eggs retrieved and frozen, a future pregnancy should be a guarantee, right? Not necessarily, but neither should there be cause for pessimism.

While studies have demonstrated little difference between fresh eggs and frozen eggs used for in vitro fertilization rates, IVF still isn’t a guarantee of pregnancy. Rates vary based largely on the age of the mother at the time of egg retrieval. According to Fertility IQ, “A woman 35 and younger will have a 30 – 50%  percent success rate per cycle and 80 percent or better after three cycles. Conversely, women over age 42 have 5 percent success rates per cycle and less than 10 percent after 3 cycles.”

The bottom line: successful pregnancy outcomes are dependent upon a number of factors. While egg freezing doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome, the earlier it’s done, the better a chance it has at contributing to a successful outcome.

This: Insurance will cover egg retrieval and freezing.

That: Egg freezing is only for wealthy people.

The reality is most insurance does not cover egg freezing. In most cases, it is considered an elective procedure and is not covered. It’s worth noting that egg freezing may be covered in certain circumstances, however, such as when fertility is threatened by another medical condition such as cancer, and egg freezing is required to preserve fertility. Some insurance plans offered sponsored by more progressive employers or employers in more competitive fields may also offer coverage as an additional benefit to their employees. It’s always worth checking with your insurance company.

Even if egg retrieval and freezing are not covered, financing options are likely available. We’ll be glad to help you explore your options.

Interested in learning more about egg retrieval and freezing? We’ll be happy to assist. To contact us and schedule a consultation with Dr. Robert K. Hunter II at Kentucky Fertility Institute, please visit here.

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Jenny Shanks