8 truths you didn’t realise about egg freezing.

Thanks to our brand partner, GENEA

When you’re in your 30s, the word ‘fertility’ hangs over you. 

After years of dodging pregnancy, stocking up on contraception and some emergency runs to the local pharmacy, suddenly your ability to become pregnant is all you can think about.

For what was once an assumption – of course I’ll have kids when the time is right – is now a massive if

If I’m not too old. If my eggs are still viable. If I meet The One. 

Whether you’re in a relationship or not, the 'if' can be overbearing. And if you’re single, the if can be all-consuming. 

“I’m running out of time.”

It’s a thought that constantly swirls in my head, while TICK TOCK reverberates around my body, and I’m consistently reminded of that episode of Friends. The One Where They All Turn 30.

Even if I were to meet someone now, at 34 years old, I’d want to know them for at least two years before we try to have a baby (and that doesn’t even take into account the perfect engagement and white wedding I’ve dreamed of). But if we forget the ring, that puts me at 36 and edging closer towards 40. 

I have to remind myself. I do have options. If I'm determined to have children in the future, what about egg freezing?

While my eggs are *fingers crossed* still fighting fit, we’re still in this together, ovaries! And there are decisions I could make.

So, on the quest to understand my fertility, here are 8 things I learnt about egg freezing.


1. Egg freezing is a 4-step process.

If you're unsure exactly on what to expect, it's a 4-step process according to YourIVFSuccess

The first part of preparation is ovarian stimulation. This is when the woman takes medication – usually hormones which she injects into herself – to stimulate the production of follicles to produce multiple eggs. During this time, she will have to pop into the clinic for blood tests and ultrasounds. 

Next up is the egg retrieval, which is carried out under light sedation or general anaesthetic. On the day of egg collection, it's roughly a total two-hour process (with the actual procedure taking up to 30 minutes). The doctor will use a thin needle to go through the vaginal wall into the follicles to retrieve the eggs using a transvaginal ultrasound, according to the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand. 

If this doesn’t work, laparoscopic surgery may be required to fetch them. (You can find a very handy breakdown of the preparation and procedure here, if you're a details kind of gal).  

Once the eggs have been retrieved, they're then transferred to the laboratory under conditions that mimic the environment and temperature of the uterus. They're frozen by reducing the temperature slowly using a process called vitrification, which preserves your eggs – which are then placed in liquid nitrogen until you're ready to use them.

One cycle of egg freezing takes around two to three weeks to complete. Plus, the number of eggs a woman wants to freeze can be different. Some may be happy knowing they have 15 eggs frozen, others might prefer having 20 or more eggs.


2. IVF success rates by clinic are publicly available online.

Like, there is a whole website dedicated to independently comparing the success of fertility clinics across Australia, benchmarked against the national rate. While there's no guarantee from clinic to clinic, it's powerful to have this transparency of information at your fingertips.

Among them is Genea Fertility which, according to the Australian Government-funded source YourIVFSuccess, has consistently high IVF success rates which are well above the national average for women aged under 35, as well as women aged between 35 and 42.

World-leading Genea Fertility clinics, which have facilities across the country, combine 37 years of experience, superior technology, expert specialists and a personalised approach to patient care to deliver egg freezing services, as well as ovulation induction and ultra uterine insemination (IUI).

3. The anti-müllerian hormone represents your ovarian reserve of eggs.

In case this mind-blowing fact hadn't reached you yet: women are born with all the eggs (oocytes) they'll ever have. It's around 1 to 2 million, which gradually lowers in quality and quantity with age.

Now, the anti-müllerian hormone, or AMH, is produced by ovarian follicles and represents the ovarian reserve (number) of eggs. AMH is produced by the follicles that contain developing eggs, so as a result, reflects the number of available eggs each month (therefore, the number of eggs remaining in the pool of eggs that women are born with). So the lower the number of remaining eggs (oocytes), the lower the AMH result.

All you need is a blood test to look at your own AMH levels.


4. Your chance of successful IVF is based on the age you were when you froze your eggs.

When you're ready to use your eggs, they'll be thawed and then injected with your partner’s or donor’s sperm using a technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI (which I learnt it's pronounced ICK-see) for short. This technique is carried out by an embryologist, who uses a large microscopic with two glass pipettes, like two arms, that manipulate the egg and sperm in a small dish. One glass arm holds the egg in place whilst the second arm is a glass needle that contains the sperm inside it. The embryologist then carefully injects a single sperm INTO the egg. Wild.  

Image: Genea Horizon.


5. The egg freezing process can start from around $5,000.

The cost of freezing your eggs can vary depending on the number of retrievals you undergo. If you get enough eggs on your first cycle, the cost is around $5,000, with subsequent cycles costing around $4,500. At Genea Fertility, this cost also includes the first six months' storage.

There are also extra costs for medication (around $1,500) and the cost of day surgery and the use of anaesthetic (from around $1,700). 

In Australia, egg freezing for elective reasons is not covered under Medicare, however some costs such as fees for doctors and anaesthetic are covered by some private health insurers. If you require egg freezing for medical reasons, such as undergoing chemotherapy, suffering severe endometriosis or are at risk of premature menopause, then costs might also be covered by Medicare.

6. You can consent to allow your eggs to be used by another person.

What happens to your eggs if you no longer need or want them, or if you died? You might not be discussing it over your morning coffee, but it is an important discussion to have with your loved ones and fertility specialist.

When patients have their eggs stored, the consent forms signed will give the option of permissions around what happens to their eggs in the event of death.

While in many cases, patients want their eggs to be discarded, some are happy for another person to use them, such as their partner or sister. 

7. Age has an impact on when to freeze your eggs.

There are so many things to consider when thinking about the optimal timing of egg freezing. 


Research from Dr Ann Steiner, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist from the UNC Fertility Clinic, indicates that freezing your eggs in the age range of 30 to 34 can still result in preserving eggs with reasonable egg quality for a successful future pregnancy. 

Interestingly, Dr Steiner and her team's 2015 research on the optimal timing of cryopreservation also indicates that if you're freezing your eggs at ages 36, 37 or 38, you can still have a probability of pregnancy using these eggs that's greater than falling pregnant at age 40 or older having not frozen your eggs. So while it’s not a fail-safe, Dr Steiner's research on probability still can be reassuring to women over 35 considering egg freezing that they aren't too late.

8. It’s not black and white.

From the costs to the success rate of live births, and even the physical and mental toll of the procedure, it’s a lot to take in. But whichever way you swing on your own decision, the hope is that you feel fully informed and empowered to take control of your fertility in a world where that tick-tock is growing fainter thanks to the advancements in technology.

Find out more about egg freezing online from Genea Fertility's sister clinic, Genea Horizon, or call 1300 361 795 to speak to a consultant.

This information is general in nature and does not replace the advice of a healthcare professional. As with any medical procedure, speaking with your doctor is advised. Find out more about egg freezing here.

Feature Image: Canva/Getty.

Genea draws on 37 years’ experience as a world leading fertility treatment provider - using superior technology, expertise and personalised care - to provide you with the best support, advice and treatment at any stage of your fertility journey.