October 23, 2023
7 Minutes

Egg Freezing Failure: What do I do next?

Egg Freezing Failure: What do I do next?
Written by
Navya Muralidhar
MSc Clinical Embryology & Embryologist
Amilis makes fertility digestible, accessible, and affordable to help you take charge of your reproductive health and live on your own timeline.

In an eggshell...

  1. An egg-freezing failure can have a mental and physical toll on you. But your healthcare provider can then provide you with alternatives and options that best fit your egg-freezing journey 
  2. There is no "definite" reason for an egg-freezing failure. Regardless of the reason, the blame isn’t solely on you or your healthcare provider. Rather, having a holistic view of what worked, and what didn’t, helps.
  3. Multi-cycle packages, modified medication dosage, IVM, and egg freezing are some alternatives that you can be commonly routed to.

You've had a cycle of egg freezing, and you hear from the doctor "We hoped for the best, but none of the eggs survived".

Or the number wasn't enough. Or the dosage of the medications wasn't enough to produce viable eggs for freezing.

There can be some reasons why an egg-freezing cycle might fail. But this doesn't mean that the effort you put in, the hope you had, or the chance for success is in vain. 

Egg-freezing failure can be a hiccup with an emotional toll. But with alternatives available, you can be diverted towards options that work best for you and your journey. 

Read on to know about the next steps you can take, in case of an egg freezing failure.

How do I deal with a failed egg freezing?

We know how hard this can be, for you and for your healthcare team. Just as much as you prepared for the entire process, the healthcare team is just as involved and hopeful of the process. However, in the event of a failed egg freezing, we can tell you one thing: 

It's okay to feel the burden of the lost effort, time, and hope. It's okay to feel sad, it's okay to let it out as well. 

But it's not okay to think that it's your fault. A failed cycle is not your fault or your healthcare provider’s, but rather a factor that needs to be handled, or an alternative waiting to be found, to work out for your cycle. 

If your egg freezing doesn't work, there are various alternatives or options that can be tried next, to see if they work best for you.

What if egg freezing doesn't work?

There are some reasons why your egg freezing may not work. Some of these reasons include:

  1. Low or minimal response to medication
  2. Fragile oocytes with abnormalities (that don't tend to survive a freezing cycle or undergo cell death pre-freezing)
  3. Diminished ovarian reserve (Less number of eggs in the ovaries, at younger or older ages)
  4. Higher maternal age 
  5. FSH polymorphism (a genetic issue that may cause abnormal response to medications given during the cycle)
  6. Premature follicle rupture 1 (if the egg retrieval is delayed, or if the medications are not provided on time)
  7. If the retrieved eggs are degenerated 2 (this is mostly caused due to a mix of patient factors and response to medication)
  8. Empty follicle syndrome 3 (which is a rare genetic condition where normal follicles seen during ultrasound contain no eggs when retrieved or aspirated from ovaries).

While all these reasons are possible, there are also some rare cases that are not mentioned. Regardless of the reason outlined, the outcome is a cycle that doesn't live up to the patient's or the doctor's expectations. 

But we’re here to tell you not to be disheartened. There's always an alternative course or the next step to be taken. Most often, the next step after an egg-freezing failure is always personalized and curated carefully to avoid any hiccups and aims to make the next cycle a success.

Egg freezing outcomes: Exploring alternatives in case of a failure 

We know how emotionally demanding it is to cope with a failed egg-freezing cycle. But fortunately, it's not the end of the road, nor is it a hard stop on your journey. 

In the event of an egg-freezing failure, there are some alternatives that are explored as the next step, such as: 

Going for another cycle or multi-cycle packages

These can help your healthcare provider time cycles with the intention to pool and freeze the retrieved eggs in batches. In such cycles, the retrieved mature eggs are frozen 4

Exploring alternate treatments such as IVM+egg freezing.

This allows the freezing of mature as well as immature eggs, which doesn't happen with regular egg-freezing cycles 5. This can lead to more eggs being frozen, compared to regular cycles. 

Now IVM may not be an option in all clinics. It's important to consult with your healthcare provider and your clinic if this is an option for you. 

Revisiting medication dosages

You might modify it for the next cycle and monitor changes in egg growth. A genetic test can also be done to evaluate how your hormones respond to the stimulation medications given during egg-freezing cycles. The best part? It allows for personalized medication dosage that your body may respond better to, and improve your chances of success for the next cycle. 

Consider donor eggs

In the case of repeated egg-freezing failures, coupled with patient-related factors. Cases such as low AMH, AFC, and increased age [in your 40s and above] can be a reason behind repeated egg failures 6. Based on your decision, to continue your fertility journey, you can opt for donor egg freezing. You can either choose pre-frozen donor eggs or be a recipient of a fresh egg donor cycle. 

Ovarian tissue freezing

This is done in the case of patients wanting to start chemotherapy, or for some recommended patients 7. This involves freezing a tiny part of the ovarian tissue [a batch of cells that make up the ovary], further extracting the follicles from the ovary, and using IVM to grow and mature them in the lab. Once they are mature, they can be frozen. 

Do I get a refund if egg freezing doesn't work?

Unfortunately, no. Given that the cost of an egg-freezing cycle goes into the medications, the equipment, the healthcare workers involved, the media used in the laboratory, and other necessities prepped for the procedure, in the event of a failure, a refund is not possible. This is also due to the fact that these items are already used during the cycle and the retrieval. 

Instead, clinics offer multi-cycle packages, which can be a less expensive alternative than paying for two separate egg-freezing cycles. 

Is one cycle enough for egg freezing?

This ideally depends on the age, medical condition, and the number of eggs retrieved for the freezing cycle. Younger people tend to produce a higher percentage of genetically normal eggs and may reach the egg-freezing target in one cycle. 

However, if you are older or have conditions that prevent healthy or the required number of eggs from growing, more than one cycle may be necessary. 

On the other hand, this “target” can be different based on your age. There isn't a specific target number for all, but rather a range to aim for. It is estimated that, on average, about 20 eggs are required in order to achieve pregnancy later, with the minimum proposed number being 8 to 10 8. This can look like one cycle for some and multiple cycles for others.

Coming to terms with egg freezing not working as planned

So, your egg-freezing cycle had a major roadblock. But is it really the end? It can be disheartening, to say the least, but as with every journey, there can be hiccups in your egg-freezing process as well. 

But that also means that there is an end to these hiccups, in the form of alternatives, another form of treatment, another cycle, or just a pause before you try again. 

While we're providing our shoulder for you to rest, take a pause, and continue your journey, at Amilis, we also believe in providing you with the best resources that suit your egg-freezing cycle. With our list of fertility clinics in London and our cost calculator, you can now choose a clinic in London or get in touch with a fertility specialist to answer your queries on all things egg freezing! 

And remember, as with all things, at Amilis, we’re here to support you with your choices and cheer you on in your journey!

Written by
Navya Muralidhar
MSc Clinical Embryology & Embryologist

An embryologist by degree, and an educator by heart, Navya has completed her Bachelors in Genetics, and her Masters in Embryology and now strives to deconstruct the complex, into educational and informative articles surrounding her field of interest. She's specifically focused on time-lapse technology, IVM, and pre-implantation genetics. When not writing, you can find her at her favourite or newest coffee shop in town, sketching away, or listening to a podcast.