Sage Preconception_is egg freezing for you?

What’s your Fertility Plan and is egg freezing for you?

Welcome to this free 6-part article series designed to help you determine your fertility plan and understand the steps you can take to optimise your fertility outcomes. Below you’ll find Part 4 – “Is Egg Freezing for You?” If you’ve already read article 1, 2 and 3, feel welcome to skip this intro and get stuck into part 4 below. If this is, however, your first time finding out about this series – please read on to learn what it’s about, how it can help you and what to expect over the coming weeks.

Over this free 6 week article series we are going to discuss all potential options for those of you who are:

  • single, 
  • in same-sex relationships, 
  • are gender non-conforming, 
  • or are in a heterosexual relationship.

In these articles I will address information around:

  • trying to conceive, 
  • options if you have been struggling to conceive, 
  • considerations for those of you thinking about IVF, 
  • considerations for those of you currently undergoing IVF treatment,
  • how beneficial naturopathy can be in optimising your fertility outcomes.

Opportunity to Ask Me Questions – LIVE

After each article release, you have the option to submit any questions you may have by 7pm Monday evening to the Create A Fertile Life Facebook group. If you’ve not yet joined that private group you are welcome to go there and request to join.

If you wish to submit your questions anonymously, you can private message the Fertile Ground Health Group Facebook page and admin will forward them to me. 

Each Tuesday, I will be answering your questions live in this Create a Fertile Life Facebook group at 7pm AEDT, so we can all learn from each other.

Your Fertility Plan

Now, some of you may know exactly what your plan is, others may not have thought about it so concisely yet. Whatever stage you are at, I want you to provide you with the tools to determine what your fertility plan can look like and how you can optimise your outcomes with Naturopathy. Grab a pen and a piece of paper, or type in to a document on your phone/computer so that you can create the skeleton of the items that relate to YOUR individual journey and we will build on this each week over the 6 weeks of this series. 

I am excited to be on this journey with you. If you’ve already registered for the whole free package, take a sneak peek at part four below and check your inbox for the arrival of your full comprehensive article for this week (week 4).

If you’re just finding this free series now and would like access from part 1 all the way to part 6 – simply register here for your free access to the whole package.

Part 4 – Is Egg Freezing for You?

Welcome to week 4! Now that you understand the importance of determining your fertility plan, undertaking thorough preconception screening, as well as individualised preconception care, this week we are going to begin to apply that new knowledge to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in the form of Elective Fertility Preservation, aka ‘Egg Freezing’, and how naturopathy can optimise your outcomes. 

Egg freezing may be a part of your fertility plan, but for some of you this may not have been something that you’ve thought about. Egg freezing is a method of storing unfertilised eggs as a way to preserve potential fertility in individuals, for any reason. Egg freezing may be a consideration for individuals that wish to reproduce, but may not be in the right place or circumstance to be able to conceive, or may need to freeze their eggs due to medical reasons. When or if the time is right, you can access your frozen eggs, which are thawed to be fertilised with sperm, in the hope to create a healthy embryo to transfer into the uterine wall for a successful pregnancy.

Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender-Fluidity and Elective Fertility Preservation (EFT)

EFT may be the insurance policy our wonderful transgender, non-binary, and gender-fluid, community that wish to undergo gender-affirming hormone replacement therapy (GAHRT), and/or gender affirmation surgery need for their family plan. For transgender men and individuals assigned female at birth, undertaking egg freezing prior to the commencement of GAHRT and surgical transition allows you to have the opportunity to have your own biological children should you wish to in the future.

If egg freezing wasn’t something you thought about prior to GAHRT and you have not had gender affirmation surgery affecting your reproductive organs, and is something you wish to pursue, then it may be possible to cease hormone treatment and begin to produce eggs again and either freeze them or try to conceive. For transgender women and individuals assigned male at birth, freezing your sperm prior to GAHRT and/or surgical transition gives you the ability to reproduce in the future also. If this is you, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of having this discussion with your Endocrinologist around your family plan and your goals as soon as possible, so they can carefully manage this process for you medically. It is also important to be aware of the emotional challenges that may arise in undergoing this process as it may require delaying GAHRT and/or gender affirmation surgery. (4)

Understanding The Egg Freezing Process

The goal of egg freezing is to obtain and freeze as many good quality eggs as possible. In order to do this, egg freezing requires a few key steps:

  1. Hormonal Stimulation 

This process occurs over 10-12 days, which aims to help the ovaries produce multiple eggs to mature in one cycle. There are a variety of different stimulation techniques and medications, and this will be determined by your fertility specialist. You’re responsible for administering your own medications during this period, which may include some or all of self-administered injections, oral tablets, pessaries, and topical patches. 

  1. Egg Collection/Egg Pick Up (EPU)

EPU sees egg retrieval from the ovaries via a fine needle that is passed through the vaginal wall into the ovary, and draws the fluid and eggs from the ovary. This procedure is conducted under a general anaesthetic, with the procedure taking approximately 10-15 minutes.

  1. Egg Freezing

The eggs collected undergo a freezing procedure in the IVF laboratory, which can be stored for many years and accessed at any time. The entire process from the beginning of hormonal stimulation to the time of egg freezing is approximately 14 days.  (1)

Age and Egg Freezing – What’s The Go?

Let’s take our minds back to our very first week. Statistics show a decline in egg quality, and therefore fertility from 35 years of age, with a further decrease after 40-42 years of age. (2,3) So while egg freezing is a great way to preserve your future fertility, ultimately, the younger you are when you freeze the eggs, the better. Egg freezing is discouraged for individuals 39 years of age or older, with the current average age of individuals undertaking egg freezing (in Victoria) being 37 years of age. (5)

So, what’s the chances of having a baby with frozen eggs?

It’s important to note that while there are no guarantees of having a baby in the future when undertaking egg freezing, there are three factors that will largely determine your chance:

  1. Your age when you freeze your eggs
  2. The number of eggs stored
  3. How many cycles you can afford (cost ranges from $4,000 – $10,000 per collection cycle)

Depending on your age and egg quality, a frozen egg has ~5-8% chance of becoming a baby. (6)

Let’s take a look at the graph below. It looks at the probability of having at least one live birth according to age at time of egg freezing and the number of eggs retrieved.

Sage King Preconception Statistics 1

Source: VARTA, 2021

To simplify it for you, for a 75% chance of a baby, individuals:

  • 35 years of age or less need 10 eggs
  • 36 years of age need 15 eggs
  • 37 years of age need 20 eggs
  • 38 years of age needs 25 eggs

As you can see, at 40 years of age, egg numbers required jump significantly to 40 eggs, and increases again at 42 years of age to 60 eggs, highlighting the importance that the earlier you can freeze your eggs, the better the chance that your fertility insurance policy will result in a healthy baby.

What is Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) and why is it relevant?

Conducted as a simple blood test, Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is an indicator of ovarian reserve. Put simply, AMH provides insight into the remaining quantity of eggs you have. While it provides us with this information, it does not assess…

Want to keep reading? Sign up to get instant free access to Sage’s preconception article series and find out about the intricacies of egg freezing, your menstrual cycle, sperm donor considerations, intercourse, conception, egg quality, egg carrying considerations, assisted reproductive technology, home insemination, the answers to your questions and more.

Written by Fertile Ground fertility Naturopath, Sage King.