Egg freezing and IVF are two different thingsdidesign021/ShutterstockAlthough egg retrieval is part of both procedures, the goal with in vitro fertilization (IVF) is usually to get pregnant and have a baby as soon as possible. "When those eggs are retrieved with IVF, they are fertilized with sperm to create an embryo that's transferred to the woman's uterus," explains Joshua Klein, MD, chief medical officer and reproductive endocrinologist at Extend Fertility in New York City. "While, with egg freezing, the process is complete after the egg retrieval—there's no creation of an embryo, because the goal for now is simply to preserve a woman's unfertilized eggs for the future." And when you do get pregnant? Here are seven thoughts that are totally normal after getting a positive pregnancy test.
There are many reasons women choose to freeze their eggsAfrica-Studio/ShutterstockBecause it's relatively new, especially when it comes to mainstream society, the various reasons for egg freezing are often misunderstood. Most people think egg freezing is for women later in their childbearing years who are running out of time, but this is not always the case. "Egg freezing is viewed as a way to stop the 'biological clock,' but it provides many other options than that," explains Melvin H. Thornton, MD, medical director at CT Fertility. "Even if you're still in your early childbearing years but not ready to start your family just yet, freezing your eggs sooner rather than later improves your odds of having a baby in the future." The younger and healthier you and your eggs are increases your chances of conception and ability to have the healthiest baby possible, while reducing your chances of suffering a miscarriage.
Your body has less eggs as you age
Matej-Kastelic/ShutterstockYou're born with about two million eggs which are stored deep in your ovaries in small water balloon-like pockets called follicle cysts. As you continue to age, your eggs continue to age with you and deplete significantly throughout your lifetime. "As an analogy, a dog year is 7:1 human years and an egg year is 2:1 human years," says Angeline Beltsos, MD, board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility and CEO of Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago. "So, at 40 years old, the egg is like an 80-year-old person." In other words, just like us, our eggs begin to lose their energy and liveliness as they age, which results in a lower chance that they'll make a baby.
It's smart to start thinking about freezing your eggs before age 35ldutko/ShutterstockDoctors and egg-freezing specialists say the best time to freeze your eggs is in your late 20s or early 30s, as this gives you the best chances of pregnancy later on. But even if you are in your late 30s or early 40s, you're still a candidate for egg freezing. "If you are a healthy woman older than 38, do not wait to meet with an infertility doctor and consider freezing your eggs," advises Sherry Ross, OB/GYN, author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide To Women's Intimate Health. Period. "Women older than 40 are still candidates for freezing, but their success rates in having a baby are less than ten percent." However, it's important to note that egg quality and quantity differ from person to person. "A yield from egg freezing cycle depends on a number of things—your age, medical history, how you respond to medications, etc.," says Dr. Thornton. "But, statistically speaking, a woman who freezes 15 eggs at age 30 has about a 30 percent chance of giving birth to a child if she uses these eggs, while a woman who freezes 25 eggs at age 30 has about a 40 percent chance of giving birth to a child.
It can take several months to complete
Janthiwa-Sutthiboriban/ShutterstockAll in all, egg freezing is a fairly quick process. "You really only need to do three things: meet with a fertility doctor to decide if he or she is someone you feel comfortable with, undergo some basic hormone and infectious disease testing, and order your medications," explains Sheeva Talebian, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. In most cases, this takes only a few weeks and requires an occasional appointment every few days. "Once a woman has had her initial consultation (including an ultrasound and a blood test for AMH to assess her ovarian reserve) and a period (either from the birth control pill or spontaneously), she takes approximately 10 days of fertility shots before undergoing a procedure to retrieve the eggs," says Alan B. Copperman, MD, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and vice-chairman department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
It might make you gain weightwavebreakmedia/ShutterstockThis is one of the top questions fertility experts are asked when patients inquire about egg freezing, and the short answer is yes, there will be bloating involved in the process, mainly caused by the fertility medications you have to take. "You can expect to gain a few pounds of water weight and may need to modify your exercise regimen for 10 days or so, but you won't permanently go up two jean sizes," explains Jaime Knopman, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. "With the period following the egg retrieval, you will see that weight come off (in fact you will pee most of it out...remember it's water!)." Bottom line: You may have to spend two weeks in leggings and loose dresses, but you'll soon get to go back to your skinny jeans! Here are pregnancy myths you can safely ignore.
It's not as painful as you would thinksfam_photo/ShutterstockHormone injections and egg retrievals sound painful but, while they're by no means painless, they're not as bad as you'd think. "Almost all the injections during stimulation are low volume and use tiny needles, which can be injected anywhere there is skin, typically in the belly near the belly button," explains Dan Shapiro, M.D., reproductive endocrinologist. "In fact, many patients may not even feel the injection at all and start worrying that they didn't actually get the medicine when, of course, they did." And, since egg retrievals are done in a procedure room under sedation, the patient neither feels pain nor remembers anything about the process. "The egg freezing process does not have to be disruptive towards activities of daily living," says Dr. Copperman. "That night, a woman freezing her eggs can go out to dinner, have a glass of wine, and go back to work the next morning."
ESB-Professional/ShutterstockHow much does it cost to freeze your eggs? Let's put it this way: The cost of egg freezing is what often separates those who think about the process versus those who can actually afford to do it. "One cycle of egg freezing can cost around $10,000, and, often, two cycles are needed to have a healthy egg account," says Dr. Ross. "Fortunately, companies like Facebook and Apple, are at the forefront of embracing and protecting a woman's choice to delay motherhood and are championing their career-driven female employees by supporting them in the family-planning department."