Practical Information about Egg Freezing
This month we celebrated Women’s Health Week (2-6 September) and last month we introduced the topic of egg freezing. In Part 2 we will attempt to alleviate the social stigma around fertility preservation and provide practical information about egg freezing to those considering it. Your future fertility is something that you can have control over. Being able to make an informed decision is crucial. Our 20’s and early 30’s may be the best time to have a baby, but it’s not always the right time. The technology of egg freezing provides the opportunity to take control of the situation and preserve fertility until you are ready to have a baby. Fertility preservation is often seen as reproductive insurance.
What do you need to know about Egg Freezing?
- Firstly, lets recap on the facts. On average, women need between 30-40 eggs vitrified to result in a live birth (baby). Therefore, you may require more than one IVF cycle to achieve the required numbers. This depends on your age and your bodies response to the medications used.
- Be aware that you may not have access to Medicare Rebates. If there is no medical reason for infertility identified by your fertility specialist then you may not be eligible for any Medicare rebates. (For example blocked tubes, endometriosis etc). In that case, you would have to fund the cost of treatment(s) privately.
- Find a fertility specialist that you are comfortable with. The importance of finding a great specialist cannot be emphasized enough. Fertility treatment requires specialised procedures and can be a very emotional time. Look for a specialist in fertility preservation, who is truly invested in educating their patients about their options with honesty. Your specialist should have compassion in discussing realistic possibilities when it comes to outcomes.
- The initial screening tests are important in helping you and your specialist make treatment decisions. Your specialist will advise you on a series of tests. These tests are aimed at evaluating your reproductive health and to check your ovarian reserve. One of these tests is a simple blood test to check your AMH level (Anti Mullerian Hormone). This is often ordered in conjunction with a vaginal ultrasound scan to check the number of follicles visible on your ovaries, known as the antral follicle count (AFC). These tests can help guide what your fertility prospects are. Whatever the outcome of these results, it’s important to remain objective and to work with your specialist to find the best way forward for you.
- There are a few different ways of approaching an IVF cycle but for certain you will need to take daily injections into your stomach for about 10-12 days. These injections assist the ovaries to grow and mature your eggs. The injections are given subcutaneously (under the skin), using a very fine needle, which means they aren’t painful, and the nurses will teach you how to administer them yourself.
- The egg collection process. You will usually have 1-2 ultrasound scans whilst on the injections to see how you are responding to the medications. Your fertility specialist can then see how many and how large the follicles are. (Follicles are the fluid-filled blisters on the ovaries in which the egg grows). When the follicles have reached a certain size, they are likely to be mature and the eggs ready to be retrieved. The egg collection process generally takes about 30 mins. It’s performed either under general anaesthesia in the hospital or awake in the clinic. The choice is yours. Recovery times can vary with most women leaving the clinic/hospital within a few hours of the procedure. Most are able to return to their normal work the next day.
- Surround yourself with positive people who are happy to provide support. Not everyone will be supportive or understand your decision about fertility preservation. So be prepared and do not expect that they will. You may even receive unwelcome advice from those who do not understand. The journey can be very emotional. Despite your best efforts to stay strong, positive and independent, having a support system will help you remain on track and realistic throughout the process. It could also be a good idea to talk with a counsellor who is experienced in supporting people making decisions around their fertility. If you would like to access this, call the clinic and ask for the contact details of our counsellors.
- Plan Financially. As mentioned above, whether you have access to Medicare rebates for your IVF treatments will depend upon your specialist. They will determine if there is any medical reason identified during the work up phase which suggests you would need to have fertility treatment to achieve a pregnancy. Egg freezing treatment is very specialised. It’s a good idea to make your decision with financial consent. Full costs of the treatment will be discussed prior to treatment starting.
- It’s important to understand that having eggs frozen does not guarantee a pregnancy or having a baby. But it can certainly reduce the likelihood of never having a baby. Understanding this can help you feel empowered and in control of your future. It can also reduce the amount of stress you feel being under pressure to plan for your future.
How can we help you on your journey?
Fertility Solutions offer a free consultation with one of our Scientists to discuss any questions you may have about the process of egg freezing or fertility preservation. If you wish to book a confidential consultation with a Scientist, please call the Clinic on 1300 FERTILITY (1300 337 845) or Book Online.