About Egg Freezing
A woman has a group of antral follicles that she uses or loses every month. Eggs grow inside these follicles, but not every follicle contains an egg. During the natural menstrual cycle, hormones from the brain are released that allow only one follicle in a group of follicles to become the dominant follicle.
During ovulation, which is typically monthly, each dominant follicle releases a single egg. The other follicles are lost through a process called atresia. In an egg-freezing cycle, combinations of reproductive hormones will be given to you in higher doses than what your body naturally produces.
This allows for many antral follicles to grow and develop during a single month, so multiple eggs can be retrieved and frozen. Eggs that are removed from the ovary in a single month would otherwise have been lost. Undergoing a single cycle, or even multiple cycles, of egg freezing does not decrease overall fertility, make you lose your egg supply faster, or cause you to go through menopause earlier.
Your physician will establish your individual schedule based on your age, AMH level, AFC and FSH levels. The egg-freezing process begins with a stimulation cycle, which includes four parts:
FAQs: Egg Retrieval
How are eggs retrieved?
Your egg retrieval will be done by one of our physicians in our downtown office. An anesthesiologist will put you under conscious sedation for the procedure. Although the procedure itself typically takes about 20 minutes, you will be in the procedure suite for about two and a half hours. You must have someone present with you to drive you home after the procedure.
When are eggs retrieved?
Your care plan will be based on your individual response to stimulation. Retrievals can happen any day of the week, and we do not try to schedule them for a particular day or particular physician. We will be ready for your retrieval when your ovaries are ready. This can be on a weekday, weekend or holiday. We do not manipulate your cycle to best fit our schedule.
We are dedicated to giving you the best chance at a successful cycle. To meet this need, we have a comprehensive call schedule among our physicians to ensure that we have a physician available every day of the year, including holidays. The on-call physician will perform your egg retrieval.
How many eggs should I expect to get?
The response to stimulation varies. Your AFC has been shown to be the best predictor of the number of eggs that you will produce, but this is just a loose guide. On average, younger patients with higher AMH levels produce more eggs. The average number of eggs produced by women of childbearing age is 10, but it can vary, based on age. Two types of eggs can be retrieved: immature eggs (referred to as MI) and mature eggs (referred to as MII). We only freeze MII eggs, as these have the best potential to achieve a live birth in the future.
What is the likelihood of having a baby with my frozen eggs?
The overall likelihood of achieving a live birth from the frozen eggs is going to be dependent on your age at which you froze your eggs and the number of mature eggs retrieved.
What happens after egg retrieval?
Frozen eggs are shipped to a long-term storage facility where they are safely kept until you choose to use them.
It takes two weeks for your ovaries to physically recover after egg retrieval. It is common during these two weeks to still have some bloating and discomfort. We encourage you to schedule a follow-up visit with your physician two to three weeks after your egg-freezing cycle to discuss your results.
Depending on your age, your ultimate goals and your response to stimulation, we may discuss the option of pursuing another egg-freezing cycle. You and your physician can discuss your particular situation, your options and recommended next steps in order to maximize your reproductive potential.
To Request an Appointment
Northwestern Medicine Fertility Center is now conveniently located in three locations: Chicago, Highland Park, and Oakbrook Terrace.
Visit our Locations & Appointments page for more information.
EGG FREEZING OPTIONS
Eve Feinberg, MD, and Angela Lawson, PhD