These questions have been answered by our experienced Medical Advisory Board members. If you have a question not listed here, please contact us directly so that we can connect you with an Extend Fertility affiliated center representative.
What is a woman’s natural biological clock?When it comes to issues of fertility, it is the age of the egg, not the age of the woman that matters most. Women are born with a finite number of eggs, around 1 million. At puberty, that number has dwindled to 400,000 and subsequently an average of 750 eggs are lost each month. The eggs not only begin to diminish in quantity, but also in quality. The combination of these factors leads to a woman’s fertility beginning to decline in her 20’s and significantly deteriorating after age 35.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a woman over age 40 has only a 5 percent chance or less of becoming pregnant naturally in any one month. Furthermore, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in newborns increases with the age of the woman's egg, growing to 1 in 66 at age 40 versus 1 in 385 at age 30.
Research has found that when women use donor eggs from younger women, they can achieve the same pregnancy success rates as women in their 20's. Extend Fertility’s egg freezing service provides a way for those younger "donor" eggs to be the mother's own eggs that were retrieved at a younger age and preserved at that age using cryopreservation technology.
Can a woman in her 40s safely carry a child to term?Most women in their 40s are not able to successfully carry a “natural” pregnancy to term. However, when these women use donor eggs from younger women, they can achieve the same pregnancy success rates as women in their 20’s. This demonstrates that the primary cause of infertility and miscarriages for older women is the quality/age of the egg. Egg freezing provides a way for those younger, “donor” eggs to be the mother’s own eggs that were retrieved at a younger age and preserved at that age using cryopreservation technology.
Does egg-harvesting jeopardize natural fertility by removing “good eggs”?While a woman ovulates one egg each month, there are actually multiple eggs that are absorbed in the process of selecting this egg for ovulation. When eggs are retrieved, the eggs that a woman would normally lose that month are simply "rescued." This means that there should be no adverse effect on future fertility from egg-retrieval. Women that undergo egg-retrieval should see no difference in the number of cycles they would normally have over their lifetime, and will enter menopause at the same time they would have without an egg-retrieval. Furthermore, the quality of their remaining eggs will not be compromised by the egg-retrieval.
Who is a good candidate for egg freezing?Click here to learn who is a good egg freezing candidate
Where are Extend Fertility affiliated clinics located? What if I don’t live near a center?Click here to find a partner center near you. Extend Fertility understands that many women may not live near one of our partner centers. To minimize inconvenience, the majority of the treatment process can be done from any location, with travel to an Extend Fertility partner center for only the egg collection.
How much does it cost to freeze eggs?The cost of treatment varies depending on the center you choose. Clients should be prepared to spend $6,000-$12,000 for one egg freezing treatment cycle which includes standard medical, science and service fees. Subsequent treatments are priced between $5,000-$9,000.
In addition to these fees, clients should expect to pay $3,000 - $5,000 per treatment cycle for medications that are ordered directly from a specialty pharmacy and several hundred dollars in laboratory costs for required infectious disease screening. Annual storage fees are also additional.
Is egg freezing covered by insurance?Extend Fertility is not aware of the availability of insurance coverage for elective fertility preservation. However, we encourage individuals to contact their insurance provider directly to understand their personal coverage plan and eligibility for reimbursement.
How are the eggs retrieved?At the end of the medication cycle the eggs are retrieved during an outpatient procedure at an Extend Fertility partner center. The physician gently collects the eggs using a guided ultrasound (there is no incision). The procedure is performed under sedation for comfort, and takes only 30 minutes with a recovery time of one hour.
What are the risks of the procedure?Egg harvesting is a proven, safe procedure that is performed more than 100,000 times per year in egg donor and IVF cycles. The primary complication is ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) which can result when women with poly-cystic ovaries are administered the hormone injections. However, because women that are prone to OHSS can be identified upfront during the initial medical consultation, the actual risk of occurrence is very small. The other very rare complication is bleeding and infection resulting from needle puncture at egg retrieval. As with any medical procedure, there are risks associated with the procedure and complications may arise. Please contact your medical professional for additional information.
What are the side-effects of egg freezing?The primary side-effects result from the medication cycle, which happens before the eggs are retrieved. Because the hormones stimulate the maturation of multiple eggs for one month’s cycle (instead of the normal maturation of 1 egg per cycle), a woman can expect to experience bloating, discomfort and cramping.
How are the eggs “preserved”?Following the egg retrieval procedure, the eggs are immediately transferred to the laboratory for an advanced cryopreservation process performed by an embryologist. This process has been fine-tuned to accommodate the unique freezing requirements of egg cells. The eggs are frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen. Advances in cryobiology have made it possible to keep living cells in a suspended state, keeping them essentially ageless until you are ready to use them.
Where are the eggs stored?The eggs are stored in special holding tanks filled with liquid nitrogen. Each secure facility includes stringent quality controls, enhanced security, controlled access and constant monitoring.
How long can eggs be stored?Based on the science of cryobiology, once the eggs are frozen they are in a “suspended” state and, thus, should not have a fixed shelf-life.
How do you use frozen eggs to achieve pregnancy?When a woman is ready to get pregnant using her frozen eggs, she will undergo one portion of the traditional In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedure. The eggs are thawed and mixed with the partner’s sperm outside the body. These fertilized eggs grow into embryos, of which one to three are then transferred to the uterus for implantation and development into one or more babies. Over 100,000 IVF procedures are performed each year and more than 1,000,000 babies have been born through IVF. It is a safe and proven process, with no evidence of higher birth defect rates among the babies born using this method.
What is the first step in the process?
Contact Extend Fertility to get started with the center of your choice today at 800-841-7197.
"More women today find they want to put off pregnancy until their careers are well established, or until they've gotten more life experience. However, research shows that pregnancies in women over the age of 35 suffer from more problems than those in younger women."