pregnancy

'How much does it actually cost?' 6 things you need to know about freezing your eggs.

Have you ever considered freezing your eggs but didn’t know where to start or who to ask? 

Here, IVF Australia fertility specialist Dr Andrew Hedges answers six questions about the process, the cost and the reasons why you might consider egg freezing. 

Watch the trailer for Mamamia’s new podcast, Get Me Pregnant, where hosts Rachel Corbett and Leigh Campbell talk all things pregnancy and fertility. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

1. What exactly is egg freezing?

Egg freezing is the process of collecting a woman’s unfertilised eggs to preserve the possibility of fertility. 

“If a woman comes in to see me about freezing eggs for future use, we always have a general discussion about fertility and health to make sure it is the right path for her,” Dr Hedges explains.

“I am always very clear that while there are no guarantees of a successful pregnancy, egg freezing does create more options. 

“If a woman freezes her eggs at age 35 and then decides to use them at 42 to become pregnant, her chances are higher than if she just came to see me for the first time at age 42.”

2. How does the process of egg freezing work? 

The process of freezing eggs begins in a very similar way to the first two weeks of an IVF cycle. The patient self-administers daily hormone injections and is regularly monitored by their treating doctor with ultrasounds and blood tests. 

“Every woman’s treatment is adjusted to suit the individual,” Dr Hedges explains.

 “Once we believe the eggs are ready to be collected, the woman receives a trigger injection to stimulate the eggs' release.

“The next day she comes into the clinic and the collection procedure is usually carried out under light general anaesthetic or with sedation. It takes about two hours and is usually well tolerated but may require a day away from work for rest and recovery.”

“We hope to collect somewhere between 12 to15 eggs as not all of them will mature once in the lab. The mature ones then undergo a procedure called vitrification and are frozen for future use.”

Occasionally, Dr Hedges says, a woman may need more than one cycle to get a good number of eggs to freeze.

3. Why might a woman consider egg freezing?

There are two main reasons women consider egg freezing, Dr Hedges says - social and medical.

“Many women I see are single and in their mid-thirties concerned about not having met someone they want to start a family with.” 

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“They might be weighing up the option of doing IVF alone with donor sperm, or freezing eggs to give themselves more time to decide.

“Perhaps they are about to go overseas for work for 12 months or have just come out of a long-term relationship. We always look at all the options available and what might be best for them.”

The other group of women Dr Hedges sees who want to freeze their eggs are those with varied medical issues.

“I see women (single and in a couple) who have recently been diagnosed with cancer. They know that chemotherapy can bring on the menopause and cause infertility. They want to freeze their eggs as a precaution. I also see women with other existing or complex medical conditions such as endometriosis.”

Listen to Mamamia’s new pregnancy podcast, Get Me Pregnant. In this episode, hosts Leigh Campbell and Rachel Corbett talk everything egg, sperm, and embryo freezing. Post continues below.

4. What are the main costs to consider?

Costs associated with egg freezing are similar to a single round of IVF, but paying for storage, and for how long, is also a factor.

“Women who are freezing their eggs for medical reasons will be heavily supported by Medicare,” Dr Hedges explains.

“If you are freezing your eggs for social reasons however the approximate cost is around $7,000. Ongoing storage costs between $250 and $300 are to be paid every six months.”

5. What are the main advantages of egg freezing? 

If a woman freezes her eggs at 35 then decides to try for a baby at 41, her chances of conception using her younger eggs are much higher.

“Frozen eggs have the same success rate as fresh eggs in the IVF process so while it offers no guarantees of a healthy baby, it does give the woman extra options and an increased success rate,” Dr Hedges says. 

While embryo freezing has a higher pregnancy potential, this can occasionally be problematic.

“To use a frozen embryo, a couple must both sign off on its use. If the couple were to separate, then their embryo may not be useable. This is obviously not the case for a woman’s frozen eggs. This might be something I discuss, depending on the situation.” 

6. When would egg freezing not be recommended?

As Dr Hedges explains, egg freezing offers no guarantees and its suitability depends on the individual.

“I mostly recommend egg freezing to women who are 35 years and under, occasionally up to 37 depending on her unique fertility story,” Dr Hedges says.

“The occasions I would not recommend it would be if a woman was 38 and over, or if a 35-year-old woman came in and said she was worried about fertility but wanted to try for a baby in six months. I would likely say to come back and see me then.”

Have you been through, or are you going through the egg freezing process? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

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Feature Image: Getty.

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