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What You Need To Know About Freezing Your Eggs

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What You Need To Know About Freezing Your Eggs

There might be more time on the biological clock these days. Why? Because freezing your eggs is a real thing—and you’ve probably already heard of it. 

Oocyte cryopreservation, or egg freezing, is a reproductive planning process that involves the extraction, preservation, and storing of eggs—allowing whoever undergoes the procedure to pursue pregnancy at a later date through IVF (in vitro fertilization) or donate their oocytes to others. After its first successful outcome in 1986, egg freezing became a hot-button topic, and today, many use it to extend fertility timelines and expand their choices. So, what’s behind the hype?

Before we give you the rundown, let’s get one thing straight: freezing your eggs is one option within the family planning landscape, and it’s not the right fit for everyone. If you’re wondering how cryopreservation can fit into your future, be sure to consult a fertility specialist to get personalized answers. When it comes to the SparkNotes scoop on the process, we’ve got your back: here’s what the experts have said so far. 

What does the egg freezing process look like? 

According to experts at Shady Grove Fertility, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Yale Health, the egg freezing process contains roughly four phases. Before it all begins, you’ll undergo a full-scale medical examination and consultation, where a fertility specialist will assess risks, test your hormone levels, and decide on a game plan for the process. What happens next varies, but it tends to look like this: 


First things first: your ovaries need to be producing eggs in sync. Your fertility doctor may choose to synchronize your ovarian production or suppress early ovulation with prescribed medication: this could include birth control, leuprolide, or others. Once your ovaries are dancing a perfect pas de deux and growing follicles (liquid-filled sacs in which oocytes mature) at the same rate, it’s time for phase two.  


Often called ovarian stimulation, this phase is all about helping your reproductive system do a little more than it normally would. You’ll likely begin a series of self-administered daily injections over 10-12 days; each injection consists of what fertility experts call “follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormones,” or gonadotropins. These synthetic hormones supplement the ones your body naturally makes, encouraging your ovaries to produce multiple eggs per cycle. During this time, your doctor will closely monitor you to make sure everything’s going (and growing!) the way it should. At the end of this phase, you’ll get what’s called a trigger injection, another combination of hormones that brings the eggs to maturity — and preps your body for retrieval. 


You’ll undergo an intra-vaginal procedure, performed under anesthesia. An embryologist will collect follicular fluid from your follicles; this fluid will contain the mature eggs.


The collected eggs will be vitrified, or frozen with liquid nitrogen, and appropriately stored. According to Dr. Anthony Imudia at Shady Grove Fertility, you can expect your period within one to two weeks of retrieval. 

When’s the best time to freeze my eggs? 

There’s no definitive answer here. One study determined the optimal age range to be between 30 and 35 years old; another suggests the range begins at 27; and yet another suggests you could begin the process at 25. Our suggestion? Reach out to a fertility doctor and determine what your optimal range looks like, based on your reproductive health. 

How long will egg freezing take?

Embryologists state that a complete cycle (all four phases) of the egg freezing process can take between two and four weeks, from start to storage. The actual retrieval procedure itself can take anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes. Of course, your physician will determine the exact timeline. 

How much does egg freezing cost? 

According to Healthline, a single egg freezing cycle ranges from $5,000 to $10,000, with the medications prescribed by your physician adding to the cost. And just like any kind of storage, you’ll need to pay annually to keep your eggs preserved. Storage costs will likely run between $500 and $1,000 per year. 

How can I pay for it?

Egg freezing is typically classified as elective—so while it’s rare that an insurance company will fully cover it, there are plenty of other payment options out there. Several clinics offer payment plans and financing for egg retrieval cycles. Global funds like Future Family offer fertility loans with varying interest rates. Additionally, some fertility centers offer low-cost or free egg retrieval if a client chooses to donate some of the oocytes retrieved. 

Your employer may even have family planning benefits that can offset the cost of the cryopreservation process! Check out some companies leading the charge. 

What should I do to prepare?

Prior to and during egg retrieval, you’ll need to take extra good care of yourself. You’re probably tired of hearing us say that the specifics depend on consultation with the physician supervising your retrieval process—but, alas, they do.

While expert advice varies, the egg freezing “do”s we’ve gathered are: maintaining a balanced diet, opting for relatively low-intensity exercise (maybe skip the ultra-marathon for now), and implementing a physician-approved supplement routine. 

It's also imperative to support your egg health with supplements and a healthy diet. Read more about the specifics here.  

Things to keep a serious eye on? Your caffeine consumption (specialists recommend 200 milligrams or less per day), refined sugar intake, and stress levels. The jury’s out on baths, steam rooms, and hot tubs—so you’ll need to ask your doctor. But the verdict’s unanimous on this one: limit smoking and excessive alcohol consumption during the retrieval process. 

Finally, make sure you have your village on standby. Freezing your eggs is a medical procedure like any other; you should be supported before, during, and after! Consider telling some trusted friends that you’re embarking on this journey so they’re ready to lend a hand, should you want or need it. 

How do I know if egg freezing is right for me? 

This one’s strictly between you and your doctor. No one else (not even us!) can answer this for you. Like with any medical procedure, there are risks to oocyte cryopreservation; one of them being ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Everyone’s body reacts differently to the process, and only a fertility specialist can consult with you on what to expect—and what you can handle. 

Intrigued, but not sure where to start? No worries—and no rush. Anything involving your uterus is 100% YOUR business and your decision, and you don’t have to make any moves immediately. If you’re ready to learn more, start here: do plenty of research (you’re already on your way with this one!). Seek out people who have frozen their eggs and see if they’re comfortable speaking with you about their experience—online communities are a great place to begin. And most importantly, start looking for a specialist you trust; they’ll be your #1 guide (and cheerleader!) throughout this journey.

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