Are There Risks Involved with Egg Freezing?

Are There Risks Involved with Egg Freezing?

Whether you’re dealing with a health issue that may threaten your fertility or you want to harvest healthier eggs for future use, egg freezing has become a popular and viable fertility preservation practice.

As part of our wide range of fertility services here at NOVA IVF, we offer egg freezing to our patients. So that you can make an informed decision, Drs. Richard Schmidt and Meera Shah want to take this opportunity to provide you with what you need to know about egg freezing, namely whether there are any associated risks.

Egg freezing basics

As the name implies, egg freezing is a technique in which we attempt to preserve your fertility by harvesting and freezing your eggs for future use. There are several reasons why women choose to freeze their eggs, including:

Whatever your reasons, the process is the same: We harvest your eggs, and our embryologist freezes them in liquid nitrogen for future use (a process called vitrification).

While this process is fairly simple and straightforward, there are some risks associated with egg freezing, which we review next.

The risks of egg freezing

We’ve found that the biggest risk when it comes to freezing your eggs for future use isn’t related to your physical health, but rather, your emotional health. Egg freezing certainly provides many women with the possibility of preserving their fertility, but there are no guarantees.

For example, the survival rate of a developing egg (oocyte) after thawing is 90%–97%, while the fertilization rate is 71%–79% and the rate of implantation is 17%–41%.

What these numbers illustrate is that egg freezing itself is quite successful, but with each subsequent step — thawing, fertilization, and implantation — the success rate lessens. 

In other words, while many women successfully freeze and then use their eggs in the future, others aren’t able to build their families as they would have wished. 

Dealing with fertility issues can be emotionally difficult, so it’s important to understand that freezing your eggs and successfully using them down the road isn’t a foregone conclusion.

Aside from the emotional risk of egg freezing, there are health risks, though they are highly uncommon. For example, when we freeze your eggs, we first place you on hormone therapy to encourage ovulation. In rare cases, these fertility drugs may cause your ovaries to swell and become painful.

Also rare, but worth mentioning, is that there is some risk when it comes to harvesting your eggs with a needle, which can cause damage to neighboring organs or lead to an infection.

Again, these two examples of the risks that are associated with egg freezing do not occur with any frequency, and most women navigate the process without incident.

If you have more questions about the risks that come with egg freezing or the process in general, we invite you to contact our office in Mountain View, California, to learn more.

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