Egg Freezing Roadmap

STEPS INVOLVED

THE 4 STEPS OF EGG FREEZING: EVALUATE, STIMULATE, RETRIEVE, FREEZE

The decision to freeze your eggs can take time.  However, once you complete your initial consultation and decide to move forward, the active egg freezing cycle is relatively short – approximately 10-12 days. 

STEP 1: Evaluate

This first step consists of a laundry lists of test to assess your ovarian reserve, as well as your overall health. Your clinic will schedule your initial evaluation on Day 2 or 3 of your cycle. Don’t track your period? Start using an app like Glow or Clue as you will want this information at your fingertips throughout your cycle.
Also, if you are not already on the pill, your doctor may have you start taking it for a month or two to regulate and sync your menstrual and egg freezing cycles.

Evaluation tests include, but are not limited to:

Pap smear (within last 12 months)*
Mammogram (if you are 40<)*
STI screening (sexually transmitted infectious diseases)
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Day 3
Estradiol (E2)
Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)
Antral follicle count (AFC) (transvaginal ultrasound)
*complete with your GYN prior to consultation

STEP 2: Stimulate

The goal of egg freezing is to retrieve and freeze a high quality and good quantity of eggs. Hormone stimulating medication pushes your ovaries to work overtime and increase egg production.
Stop high impact or overly strenuous exercise (i.e.: running, spinning, etc) that could harm your egg development and increase risk of ovarian torsion, where your ovary twists on itself. Opt for low impact workouts like running and yoga.
Because everyone responds to hormone stimulation in different ways and stimulation protocols vary from woman to woman, use the below outline as a guideline.
Cycle Day 1: First day of your period.
Cycle Day 3-9: Time to start your stimulation medications (Follistim, Gonal-F, Repronex or Bravelle). During this time you will visit your clinic every day or every other day for blood work and an ultrasound to monitor follicle growth. Your medication dosage may be adjusted based on your follicle development.
Cycle 5-7: You will start your antagonist shots (Ganirelix or Centrotide) to inhibit ovulation.
Cycle Day 10-12: You will feel really bloated – hang tight, you are almost there! Once your follicles have reached maturation, your doctor will confirm the time of your procedure, as well as when you to administer your trigger shot (typically 36 hours prior to retrieval).
The trigger shot or hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) effectively tells your follicles to release your mature eggs. Unlike the hormone shots which you administered subcutaneously, the trigger shot needs may be administered be given intramuscularly in the hip or butt. Even if you self-administered your hormone shots, if possible, recruit a friend or hire a private nurse for the trigger shot. The needle is bigger, it’s harder to inject and you don’t want any last minute mishaps the night of your retrieval.

STEP 3: Retrieve

The retrieval process is fast and, according to most women, one of the easiest parts of the egg freezing process. Once you are under anesthesia or sedated, your doctor will use an ultrasound guided needle attached to a catheter to remove the eggs from each of your ovaries. The procedure is short, approximately 10–15 minutes, and leaves no scars or stitches. You will be a bit groggy and could have some cramping when you wake up. Do not be tempted to go back to the office – lay low for the rest of the day.
Do not be tempted to start working out hard post procedure to shed the couple of pounds you might have gained. You’ll need to give your ovaries some time to recover at least one if not two weeks is recommended. Also, no sex until your next period (about 2 weeks).

STEP 4: Freeze

Retrieved eggs are given directly to the embryologist who separates the mature from the immature eggs. All mature eggs will be vitrified, or rapidly frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen. Within 24 hours of your retrieval, your clinic will let you know the number of eggs retrieved and the number of mature eggs frozen.