Egg freezing is a technology with a lot of potential. Recently there has been an influx of ‘low cost egg freeze providers’. While that might sound enticing, it is important you understand what you are getting, as not all providers are equal.
To help you understand a bit more about what the procedure involves and what to look for when choosing an egg freeze specialist, we have broken it down for you, as well as included a list of questions to ask your doctor, to ensure you choose the right specialist for you.
How we freeze eggs matters.
Experts agree you need to freeze a really good number of eggs by vitrification (at least 20 to 30) to have more than a 50% chance of having a baby.
The age at which you freeze eggs matters.
Younger eggs are stronger, tougher, better at making babies.
The person who freezes your eggs matters.
Choose your specialist wisely. Receiving expertly individualised care will ultimately influence your chance of future motherhood.
It is not a surprise that as a comprehensive fertility specialist, I value both my patients experience but equally importantly, I value their outcomes. In terms of egg freezing, this means individualizing care, using a hands on approach, optimizing every aspect of treatment and using the best possible laboratory. The cost of best practice egg freezing treatment is roughly $5000 per cycle.
How do “low cost” egg freezing centres cut their costs?
Low cost staff
Low cost egg freezing ventures are set up like one size fits all factories. It is highly likely that you will be medicated using a protocolised approach and that the specialist involved will be “hands off” during your cycle. Cycle management and procedures will be often be conducted by a nurse or lower qualified doctor.
Low cost medications
Low cost egg freezing programs can reduce treatment cost by offering women lower doses of medications. It is important for women to understand that fewer eggs will be collected per treatment.
Egg collection procedural cost can be reduced by not having a sedation anaesthetic which means not having an anaesthetist looking after you. To collect eggs this way, a woman has local anaethetic injected into her vagina and cervix while she is awake, and remains awake for the egg collection procedure. This approach is always painful and can be very traumatizing.
The egg collection procedure, should be accurately described to women who are considering being awake. To collect eggs, an ultrasound probe is introduced into the vagina, and used with some pressure to immobilize the ovary while a needle is passed into each ovary. Follicles (egg sacs) are drained, one by one, of the fluid within (and the egg). For an awake patient, it can be difficult to tolerate for long and so may mean that not every egg is collected.
From a surgeon’s perspective, local anaesthesia makes the procedure more difficult, (patients often move around in discomfort), limits operative time and compromises number of eggs that can be collected.
Low cost equals a low track record of making babies
Using frozen eggs to make babies is the second chapter of the egg freezing story, and should be discussed with any woman who is considering freezing her eggs.
“Freeze only” laboratories have no experience making babies from eggs frozen in their labs. Not every IVF laboratory achieves the same pregnancy rates from frozen eggs, so choose your lab carefully.
Low cost laboratories invest less in infrastructure and technology, meaning your eggs may not be frozen as effectively or remain as secure as they would in a top facility.
Get educated – List of questions to consider before choosing a specialist
1. What is your unit’s experience in creating babies from frozen eggs?
Women’s Health Melbourne is proud to partner with Melbourne IVF, with a record of many babies made from eggs and embryos frozen in our lab.
2. Will my eggs need to be moved elsewhere when I want to use them?
Transport of your eggs is undesirable as it exposes a very finite and precious resource to unnecessary risk. In short, you could lose your eggs. Best choose a unit that can do it all.
3. Will my treatment be individualized or will I be managed according to a one size fits all approach?
Personalised care translates to better outcomes. It makes sense.
4. Will my doctor be personally managing my progress during my treatment and performing my egg collection procedure?
Optimising every aspect of care is part of how I achieve the best possible outcomes for my patients. That means performing egg collections personally as I am a perfectionist.
5. What do I need to go through to use frozen eggs to try to have a baby?
If you choose to freeze eggs, you should know the expected IVF success rates using frozen eggs at your age and in your personal situation. Processes involved such as ICSI should be explained.
The fact that freezing eggs does not guarantee future motherhood should be clearly explained.
For women choosing egg freezing, electing a best practice unit is overall the most cost-effective strategy. Marginally higher cycle costs per treatment will for most translate to better long term outcomes.
Here is my approach to egg freezing :
Assess your patient as an individual. Plan for her success. Personalise care
Talk about all her options, for now and for the future
Partner with the best laboratory
Create the best patient experience
Get the best results and therefore achieve the best value for patients
Make more babies