Egg Freezing: Helping You to Take Control of Your Fertility & Future
In the past five years, revolutionary developments in the technology of egg freezing have made it an exciting treatment opportunity for many women.
Vitrification is a new freezing method where more than 85% of frozen eggs now survive the warming process.
Dr Raelia Lew has a special interest in egg freezing, and has developed effective strategies to maximise her patients’ treatment success.
Not all fertility clinics have the same level of experience in the advanced techniques of vitrification as Women’s Health Melbourne. Some egg freeze clinics have no significant track record of making babies from eggs frozen in inexperienced laboratories. Together with Melbourne IVF, Raelia and her team have, over a long period of time, perfected modern vitrifcation techniques and have helped thousands of patients to become parents.
Raelia prides herself on being a caring doctor and a perfectionist. She applies her extensive knowledge in a compassionate manner, and enjoys helping women to take control of their fertility and their future. Our clinic focuses on excellence in patient care. Take the first step in securing your future. Contact us today to book an appointment with our fertility specialists.
We have helped thousands of patients to become parents
No Matter Your Reasons, Egg Freezing Is an Option
Egg freezing lets you keep all of your current fertility options open, giving you more control over your future and your fertility. Patients come to Raelia with many different reasons for choosing to freeze their eggs: from changing life circumstances and unexpected events, to changes in career or health, they want the freedom to control their fertility and plan their future as best they can.
Highest Level Expertise for Exceptional Care
With state-of-the-art technology, modern facilities and a team of compassionate nurses supporting Raelia, we ensure that every patient feels safe, comfortable and fully informed at every stage of their journey.
Raelia is a supportive and caring doctor with advanced training in the field of infertility. Holding a Certificate in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility (CREI), Raelia is able to provide her patients with the highest level of expertise. This qualification is only open to selected doctors who are already Fellows of the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FRANZCOG). Currently, only 5% of doctors practicing in the field of fertility medicine hold this advanced certificate.
We enable women to take control of their fertility and their future
Egg Freezing FAQs
To help patients on their journey, Raelia has answered some common questions relating to egg freezing.
What is egg freezing?
Egg freezing, otherwise known as human oocyte cryopreservation, is the process of extracting and storing a woman’s unfertilised eggs. This enables women to serve as their own egg donor at a later date where natural conception is perhaps more difficult or unlikely. There are numerous reasons why a woman would choose to freeze her eggs including genetic disorders affecting fertility, early menopause, cancer treatments, or simply wanting to delay having children due to personal or professional goals.
What are the success rates from egg freezing?
International studies demonstrate an overall 6-12% chance of full-term birth per egg warmed. This means that the majority of women who freeze 20 eggs would be able to successfully use those eggs to have a baby. Younger women who freeze more eggs can expect better outcomes. We support women who are approaching or beyond the age of 30 who wish to freeze their eggs. There are no guarantees in life, but for women who can’t immediately try for a baby, freezing a good number of eggs (ideally 20 to 30) at an age where eggs are likely to be of high quality is an appropriate option to increase reproductive freedom, with a high chance of future pregnancy.
If you are contemplating egg freezing and would like to know more, contact Women’s Health Melbourne to arrange a Well Woman Fertility Health Check assessment.
What if I don’t use my frozen eggs?
Freezing eggs creates a “Plan B” for women approaching or over 30, where immediate pregnancy is not an option. It is a strategy to maximize a woman’s chance of having her own family.
Having chosen to freeze eggs, many women will successfully conceive. There will come a time to consider the fate of any eggs that remain in storage. Eggs may remain in storage because:
- Natural pregnancies were achieved without using frozen eggs
- Pregnancies were achieved using some frozen eggs, with additional eggs remaining.
In this circumstance, your choices would include:
- Keeping your eggs in storage (with the option of trying for another baby later)
- Warming and discarding your frozen eggs
- Becoming an egg donor – giving a precious gift to a woman with infertility
Conception using donor sperm
Single women, same sex female couples, and couples affected by a severe male factor infertility may be interested in the facts about IUI (Intra-Uterine Insemination) or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) using donor sperm. Sperm can be donated by a “known donor” (for example a friend) or alternatively from a clinic recruited sperm donor. There are many factors to consider when using donated sperm, including related Victorian legislation. This may be an option for you to think about now, rather than freezing your eggs. It is also an option for you to consider down the track, if your circumstances change and you want to conceive using your frozen eggs but don’t have a partner.
How much does each egg freezing cycle cost?
Medicare Australia does not fund egg freezing. The treatment is currently regarded ‘non-essential’ (in the same category as cosmetic procedures) and is fully-patient funded. There are few exceptions to this – if your ovarian reserve is dangerously low or you are about to start chemotherapy for life-saving cancer treatment.
The normal cost of a treatment cycle at Melbourne IVF is $6115, plus medication costs. Melbourne IVF offer a variety of payment methods including easy payment plans with one year to pay and ZIP pay. Additional up front treatment costs are around $1500 per cycle plus medications.
Our estimated costs cover all aspects of your treatment cycle including individualised specialist care, surgical procedures, nursing and counselling consultations, ultrasound monitoring and blood tests during your cycle, day hospital bed fees, anaesthetic fees, advanced laboratory technology and initial 12 months storage fees. Our cost structure is transparent, offering the highest quality care with no surprises.
Women’s Health Melbourne make highest quality care truly affordable.
How does egg freezing work?
If you think egg freezing may be of benefit to you, the first step is to see a fertility specialist.
There are different types of doctors involved in the field of fertility. The most qualified doctors in the field of fertility and egg freezing are those who hold formal Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) Certification in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (CREI). Dr Raelia Lew has both the qualifications of FRANZCOG (Fellow of RANZCOG), and CREI. Currently, only 5% of doctors practicing in the field of fertility medicine hold this advanced certificate.
Raelia also has a PhD in the field of genetic preconception health promotion. Her long-term research, as well as clinical and social interest in egg freezing make her a recognised expert in this field.
At your initial consultation, Raelia will have a discussion with you about what’s involved in egg freezing to ensure you’re made aware of the full range of fertility treatment options available to you.
As a patient under Raelia’s care, you will undertake a thorough assessment of your fertility, including measuring your ovaries’ potential to develop eggs (ovarian reserve testing). She will also request routine antenatal screening tests (Varicella IgG, Rubella IgG, Syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis B and C serology, full blood examination, blood group and antibody screen). If your GP has previously arranged these tests for you they do not need to be repeated – please bring your results with you.
Raelia discusses the opportunity for genetic screening with all her patients, specifically for carrier detection of cystic fibrosis, fragile X and spinal muscular atrophy.
Getting ready to start your treatment
Once you have made the decision to freeze your eggs, you will be asked to register as a patient of Raelia at Melbourne IVF. You will have several appointments preparing you for your treatment cycle:
- A booking appointment with Raelia to ensure your understanding of the procedure. At this point you will also complete an operative consent document with Raelia and decide whether to proceed during your natural cycle (starting when you have a period) or during a specific time frame (co-ordinated to suit you by using the oral contraceptive pill).
- An appointment with a fertility counsellor. This is compulsory in Victoria for patients having IVF, and many patients ultimately find the opportunity to be valuable.
- An administrative appointment at Melbourne IVF.
- An appointment with a specialist fertility nurse from Raelia’s treatment team. Your nurse will go through (in minute detail) exactly what you will need to do during your treatment. He or she will write you a timeline, and give you specific written instructions on when and what you need to do (e.g. administering medications, attending ultrasound scans and blood test appointments). We also use a personalised scheduling app to help you keep track of your cycle.
What is ovarian reserve testing?
Raelia will examine your ovaries with a dynamic ultrasound assessment, timed early in your menstrual cycle. This allows her to assess the number of antral follicles present in your ovaries. The number of antral follicles between 2-9mm in diameter is a good predictor of how many eggs you are likely to produce in an egg freezing treatment cycle. Raelia will also measure blood markers of your ovarian reserve (the AMH or Anti-Mullerian hormone) and combine these findings to estimate how many cycles of egg freezing you will need to achieve close to 20 eggs to freeze. The AMH is produced by ovarian follicles that are too tiny to be seen on an ultrasound scan.
How many eggs should I freeze?
Raelia will recommend that you freeze 20-30 eggs, to ensure you have a high chance of having a baby if you need to rely on your frozen eggs. There is no magic number of eggs that can guarantee your ultimate success – simply put, the more eggs you are able to freeze, the better your chance of conception will be.
Optimizing egg quality for treatment
- Take folic acid 500mcg daily for one month prior
- Take vitamin D 1000mg daily for one month prior
- Take melatonin 4mg before bed for one month prior
- Quit smoking (ideally three months prior)
- Quit alcohol (during the treatment cycle)
- Avoid excessive caffeine (one espresso daily is ok)
- In some women with a lower egg reserve may benefit from DHEA pre-treatment
Egg freezing is the best back-up option for women who want to be mothers one day but definitely not right now. All patients looking into egg freezing should strongly consider what it would mean if they were to have a baby now. If this is a viable alternative, it should be seriously considered. Stating the obvious, the only way to guarantee you will be able to have a baby, is to have a baby.
Egg freezing is an incredible “plan B”, but it should not be your “plan A” to have a family.
Egg Freezing Cycle
Step 1. Stimulating eggs to grow
An egg freezing cycle is often described as similar to an IVF cycle. However, there are several important differences.
The end point of an egg freezing cycle is the vitrification of mature eggs. This is different from IVF where the goal of treatment is an embryo transfer, with the aim of conceiving a pregnancy.
Several treatment choices used in IVF, which are designed to achieve development of the embryo and endometrium (uterine lining) in synchrony, are not relevant to egg freezers.
Three medications are necessary during an egg freezing cycle:
- Follicle stimulating hormone (of which several options exist) – to help follicles and eggs grow
- GnRH antagonist – a class of medications that prevent ovulation before eggs have been collected
- GnRH agonist – a class of medication used to reverse the GnRH antagonist, allowing for final egg maturation and collection to proceed
For most egg freezers, a GnRH antagonist cycle is the safest treatment choice. Complications of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can sometimes occur in IVF cycles are virtually eliminated using Raelia’s advanced egg freezing treatment strategy. However, there are many intricacies in fertility management and ovarian stimulation is as much an art as a science. In your individual circumstances, an alternative tailored approach may achieve better results for you.
Furthermore, because the thickness and “synchrony” of the endometrium is not a consideration in egg freezing, stimulating follicles for longer than usual in standard IVF can achieve more eggs collected per cycle of egg freezing.
Raelia and her specialist team will perform monitoring ultrasound assessments of your cycle progress and keep you fully informed. Raelia is passionate about achieving the very best outcomes for her patients, both in terms of egg numbers achieved per cycle and the ease of her patients’ treatment experience. She offers weekend and before and after working hours appointments to her patients, making the choice to freeze eggs more practical for all women.
Step 4. Vitrification
Vitrification is a revolutionary method for freezing eggs, resulting in over 85% of eggs surviving the freeze/warming process. Vitrification reduces the risk of ice crystals forming within eggs while they are in the process of freezing and warming. This is achieved by gently dehydrating the egg, then drawing out the water content by bathing the egg in a series of cryoprotectant solutions. Eggs are then frozen instantly by plunging them into liquid nitrogen at temperatures of less than -200 degrees celcius. Once vitrified and safely stored, eggs can remain frozen indefinitely until you may need to use them to have a baby.
Women’s Health Melbourne delivers the highest standard of care for women looking to freeze their eggs
Step 5. Down time and recovery time
The process of egg freezing takes between 10 days to two weeks. During the first part of your cycle, you will be able to continue your normal routine. With the exception of needing to attend your appointments with Raelia, you won’t be impaired in your daily activities.
You will need to take two days off for the day of your egg collection and probably the day after in order to take it easy. The following day, you will feel very well. Raelia will advise you to avoid sexual activity during your egg freezing cycle and in the week immediately after. This is to avoid unwanted pregnancy and the risk of trauma to your ovaries which will be enlarged due to treatment. It is also advisable that you avoid contact sports during this time. You will get your period in the weeks after your cycle is completed. It is normal for the timing of this period to vary from your regular cycle.
If you are planning more than one treatment cycle, a break in between of at least one month is advisable.
Step 6. Attempting pregnancy
When you are ready to have a baby, make an appointment to see Raelia. Whether you ultimately use your frozen eggs or not, she will look after you and help you achieve your goal.
Below are the expected pregnancy outcomes from frozen eggs
- Approximately 85-90% of eggs survive the freeze and thaw process
- An egg that survives the freeze and warming process, is expected to behave like a fresh egg
This means that:
- Approximately 50-70% of eggs would fertilise (by ICSI, using sperm from your partner or a donor)
- Approximately 90% of fertilised eggs develop into embryos on day two but only 30-40% develop on to day five (blastocyst embryos)
- A single embryo would have a 25-40% chance of developing into a pregnancy depending on a woman’s age
When you are ready to conceive, Raelia will recommend warming six to 10 eggs at a time with the goal of obtaining one high quality embryo for transfer back to your womb to achieve a pregnancy. If more than one high quality embryo develops, embryos may be refrozen for future embryo transfers. Eggs remaining in storage may be used subsequently if you initially don’t conceive or, if you become pregnant, to conceive another baby later.
Your ultimate chance of pregnancy will depend on how many eggs you freeze and the age you were at the time. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact us today to discuss your options with our fertility specialists.
Why Choose Us as Your Egg Freezing Partners?
Raelia and her team offer attentive and individualised care at every step of the egg freezing process. We recognise that women choose to go on this journey for many different reasons, and so we personalise our approach to best meet the needs of all of our patients.
In our partnership with Melbourne IVF, we have made high quality, individualised treatment affordable to fit your individual circumstances and budget.
Women’s Health Melbourne is truly at the forefront of the industry, providing top-quality, boutique care and best possible results. Our industry-leading Melbourne IVF laboratory brings you state-of-the-art technologies in cryopreservation, with babies born from eggs frozen in our lab.
For individualised advice and fertility care of the highest standard, contact Women’s Health Melbourne today. We will endeavour to get back to you on the next working day.