Frequently asked questions about egg freezing
Our egg freeze package includes an hour long consultation with Miss Matthews, screening blood tests, an ultrasound scan, and nurse consultation and support fee.
The cost of the egg freeze itself varies according to how much and what type of medicine is used, and the length of time you wish to freeze the eggs for (this can be extended anytime). The treatment itself includes 3-4 ultrasound scans, the egg collection (usually by Miss Matthews), personalised remote nursing support throughout, and a review with an ultrasound 3 weeks later.
We normally suggest you budget for £5000 - £6000.
No one knows the right answer, which will be different for every patient, but the main determinant of success is not only how many eggs are frozen but also crucially the age of the patient when they are frozen.
It is usually unadvisable to freeze eggs in anyone over 40 as the quality is so poor that success is very unlikely. We like to have at least 12 eggs in the freezer. Sometimes that requires more than one banking cycle over a 3-6 month period. Off course more eggs means a higher chance, but only if the egg quality is good. Once eggs are frozen, they can stay held in suspended animation for up to 10 years (and possibly longer). The chance of a pregnancy using those eggs is completely independent of the age of the woman when she uses them, only the age at which they were frozen.
Patients can usually start treatment with their next period if they are not using hormonal contraception. All the tests and paperwork can be prepared within 24 hours as required. Daily injections usually start on day 2 of your period (cancer patients may start on any day of their cycle to minimise delay and can have 2 collections within a month if required) and continue for 10-13 days. The egg collection happens around day 12-16 and then you have no more medicine. Your period normally starts a bit earlier than normal (approximately 10-12 days after the collection), at which point you can restart the pill as required. At the end of your period you should feel back to normal!
Yes you can have sex as normal with a regular partner. There is no chance of a pregnancy during the treatment cycle, but be aware of the risk of STIs that can cause serious pelvic infection, so always use a condom with any new partner. You might find sex a bit uncomfortable in the few days leading up to the egg collection and for a few days afterwards.
We need you to come for 3-4 appointments that normally last approximately 15 minutes over a 2 week period, during the working week. You also need to take the day of the egg collection off work. You wont be able to confirm the exact day it will happen until 4 days beforehand. You should be fine to return to work the day after the egg collection. At the start of treatment it is fine to travel for a few days. We can give you a ‘letter to fly with sharps’ as required.
Yes you can go to the gym during the first 10 days or so, but we usually suggest you stick to low impact workouts from 3 days before egg collection, and for a week afterwards. In saying that I have had dedicated runners doing 4km the day after collection, but unless you are a seasoned athlete I wouldn’t recommend it!
No UK medical insurance company will cover any aspect of the treatment, but some international policies will, so always check the small print. Some US employers will pay for treatment. Your NHS GP will not be able to help you with any test costs or drug prescriptions.
Eggs actually take 3 months to grow, and so being aware of your health and thinking about your lifestyle in the few months ahead is a bonus. I suggest cutting down on alcohol, stopping smoking and any recreational drug use, and taking a good all round multivitamin and an omega 3 supplement. Losing weight is a huge benefit if you are more voluptuous but during the treatment itself I expect you to eat normally. If you are underweight then you will benefit by gaining a few pounds. Miss Matthews will advise about all of these things when she sees you. Try not to have too much on social or work wise during the injection stage…and during these 2 weeks you are banned from alcohol!
The egg collection usually happens first thing in the morning. You are fasted when you come to the IVF unit and you are put to sleep completely for the procedure, which lasts 5-15 minutes. The eggs are collected by the surgeon under ultrasound control. A very thin needle is inserted through the vaginal skin into the ovary directly and the fluid containing ‘follicles’ containing the eggs are aspirated. No stitches are required and bleeding after the procedure is very minimal and lasts only a day at most. You will know how many eggs have been collected before you go home approximately 2 hours later. A hot water bottle and a couple of ibuprofen or paracetamol is the only pain relief you should need afterwards.
The eggs that are collected in an egg freeze cycle would normally just die without ever being used, so the treatment has no impact on your ‘egg reserve’. The treatment is extremely safe and unless there are very rare complications (ovary torsion..twisting…or infection/bleeding), it should not reduce your fertility at all. These rare complications are guarded against by having an experienced specialist perform the egg collection in a sterile operating theatre with the best equipment, and giving an antibiotic single dose while you are asleep.
I know the idea of injecting yourself sounds daunting but believe me you can do it! And if you really do have a needle phobia, then maybe a friend or family member can do them for you. If necessary we can arrange a daily visit by a qualified nurse. The injections are done in the tummy, and the needle is the size of an acupuncture needle. You won’t feel anything once the pin sized needle pierces the skin. My nurse will teach you how to prepare the injections and if required, will watch you do the first one. There are also lots of videos on YouTube as a guide!
Overall during a treatment there are 2 different injections over 11-14 days. You start with one to stimulate the ovaries and then after a few days add in a second one at the same time each day which controls the egg release.
During the injecting days most patients notice that they are more tired than normal. Emotionally some feel fantastic, and some feel a bit fragile, so having a bit of support from friends and family or boyfriend is a good idea. Towards the day of the egg collection, if all is going well, you will notice that your tummy is bloated, and that won’t go down completely until after your next period. It is also normal to gain a bit of weight (mostly fluid retention), but this all goes once your period comes afterwards (unless you have been eating too much chocolate cake!).
We have been using these hormonal treatments for IVF for over 40 years now and we are sure that there is no apparent link to general long term health issues, such as breast, cervix or ovary cancer. The treatment will not make the menopause happen earlier.
Any pre-existing health problems and all regular medications that you have would be discussed with Miss Matthews before starting the cycle, and the treatment may be adapted to consider these. E.g. if you have had a DVT or a pulmonary embolus before we would give you blood thinning treatment after the egg collection for a week.