Women have different reasons for wanting an egg freezing procedure, from trying to stop the biological clock for the continuation with careers, to wanting to preserve fertility for reasons of illness or injury.
The Initial Assessment and Tests
An initial consultation is done with the nurse or fertility specialist. At this time, several medical history questions will be asked such as a list of medications or supplements being used, medical conditions and other pertaining information.
Blood tests and an ultrasound are necessary for the preparation, and to assess the age and fertility of the eggs. Screening is also done to rule out Hepatitis B and C or HIV.
The Stimulation of the Ovaries
Fertility injections (usually gonadotropin) are normally given to stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs. With these fertility medications, it is common for women to experience bloating and cramping, breast tenderness and sometimes hot flashes.
Retrieval of the Eggs and Sensations
The eggs are normally removed in an office environment in about 4 to 6 weeks. A mild intravenous sedative is often given allowing for relaxation. The process of egg retrieval is performed with the use of a trans-vaginal ultrasound guide by way of the top of the vagina to the side of the cervix, and then inside the ovary. The physician will slowly drain the follicles (fluid-filled sac containing the eggs). There are no incisions done whatsoever. The healthy ovum (eggs or egg cells) are retrieved for future use.
Most women do not feel any pain or negative sensations. On occasion, some discomfort may be felt, but painful episodes are seldom. A little cramping may be felt a few days after the eggs are collected. Hormonal changes still exist after the process, so some of the side effects of the fertility medications may persist such as tenderness in the breasts, irritability and mild abdominal pain.
Duration of Egg Freezing
The duration for the procedure is often about 20 to 30 minutes. Clients usually go home in about one hour after the egg retrieval, and rest is normally recommended for the first few weeks following the procedure. Many do, however, return to their regular daily activities in a couple of days.
The egg freezing process takes usually about 4 to 5 months. For cancer patients, it normally takes a few weeks, as this process is more urgent to be done before chemotherapy treatment can be started. Eggs are sent to a laboratory where they are frozen and placed in storage. Eggs can generally be frozen for up to ten years.
Usually insurance plans do not cover the cost for embryo freezing, unless the reason is to preserve fertility because of chemotherapy treatment and cancer. Normally, the initial consultation is covered by OHIP.
Clients can expect to pay anywhere from $9,000 to $14,000 for the standard care and egg treatment services. This fee normally includes the cost to transport the eggs and the first year of freezing and storing. After the first year, the cost for storage is normally about $375 to $400. These fees do not include the cost for fertility medications or injections, which often cost $3,000 to $4,000 per treatment cycle, nor the cost for disease pre-screening for egg freezing, being several hundreds of dollars.