February 2, 2024
8 Minutes

Egg freezing FAQs: Answered by an expert

Egg freezing FAQs: Answered by an expert
Written by
Navya Muralidhar
|
MSc Clinical Embryology & Embryologist

In an eggshell...

  1. You may gain some weight during the egg freezing process, but this is mostly water retention and not fat
  2. Things to avoid during egg freezing: alcohol, smoking, sex during hormonal stimulations, overexercise, and hot saunas (yep, you heard us right)
  3. Egg-freezing cycles do not cause early menopause, as they don’t affect the ovarian reserve (and no, they don’t take all of your eggs)
  4. You can store your eggs for as long as 55 years, legally. You’d have to renew your consent form every 10 years

Frequently asked questions about Egg Freezing

So- you’ve decided to freeze your eggs. Or maybe you’re just in the stages of researching, you see all these resources on egg freezing and have a million questions in your head.

How is the process like? What would I have to do? What should I avoid?

Egg freezing is a medical procedure, after all, and there are choices that you can make that impact your health, as well as your response in an egg-freezing cycle. 

Knowing the do’s and don’ts can help you pour care and attention to your body, and prepare for the procedure in a risk-free manner. 

So, what are the deets on the commonly asked questions before egg freezing?

That’s exactly what we explore in this blog post.

Can I have sex while egg-freezing?

“ No sex whilst you're going through the stimulation, preparing for your egg collection. Definitely not the night before your egg collection and for a couple of days, to seven days after” says Dr Lisa Stradiotto. “The other thing is you probably wouldn't feel like having  around the time of egg collection because your ovaries are usually quite bloated, enlarged”.

So yeah, if you’re feeling discomfort, uneasy, and just in general, we recommend just listening to your body, resting, and preparing for your cycle.

Will I gain weight after freezing my eggs?

Yes, you may gain weight after freezing your eggs. 

In fact, this is largely dependent on your egg reserve as well. The higher your egg reserve, the more susceptible you are to side effects such as bloating and weight gain. 

This is because even though egg freezing starts with hormonal medication, your ovaries start responding by producing their own FSH. This leads to the estrogen levels being higher, which has a role to play in these side effects. Another reason for the bloating is also the fact that the ovaries are themselves becoming bigger with follicles. 

Usually, complaints of bloating are more than that of weight gain. But these side effects don’t happen in a severe manner. 

“ So when it comes to weight gain in egg freezing, uh, yes, you will probably gain a little bit of weight, but it's not that. It's usually water retention as a result of bloating” says Dr Lisa Stradiotto. This subsides within a couple of weeks of egg collection, as the weight isn’t permanent. It usually tends to be water retention and not fat, and it varies from person to person.

Will I get my period while egg-freezing?

No, you won’t get your period while egg-freezing. This is because an egg freezing cycle starts at the end of your current period, and is finished by the time your next period comes along. The egg-freezing cycle fits in within one complete cycle of your periods.

Here’s the breakdown: the egg freezing cycle starts on Day 3 or 4 of your current period. The follicles are then monitored, you are given hormonal medication until Day 11 or 12 (a total of about two weeks)and the egg retrieval happens soon after. AKA, you'll get your period after the entire process is done. 

“So about a week later you would get a withdrawal bleed, and this will coincide with more or less one cycle” says Dr Lisa Stradiotto. “It might be a little bit later, or a little bit earlier but generally it doesn't mess up your cycles”.

Can I take birth control while freezing eggs?

In short, no. This is because birth control works to prevent ovulation, AKA, your eggs from growing and maturing. In egg freezing cycles we want eggs to grow and mature, to finally retrieve them from the ovary. 

So, while freezing eggs, you will be advised to stop taking all forms of birth control- be it the pill, or the patch. If you’re using an IUD, there’s no need to remove it during the egg-freezing process. You can resume your birth control post-egg freezing.

Can I drink alcohol while egg-freezing?

Consuming alcohol isn’t recommended during the egg-freezing process. Studies have shown that alcohol negatively affects your fertility, as well as your egg freezing or IVF cycle. 

It’s best to switch to non-alcoholic drinks while on your egg-freezing cycle. A ginger ale or soda water are some safer choices.

What to avoid before egg freezing?

Some of the things you may have to avoid before egg freezing include:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Smoking 
  3. Any other recreational drugs 
  4. Restrict caffeine (one cup of ☕️ a day should do)
  5. Do not over-exercise (more than 4-5 times a week) 
  6. Avoid hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas (excessive temperature can have a negative impact)

And especially the night before egg freezing: Do not eat or drink anything. This is because you’ll be on general anaesthetic during the procedure.

Do they take all my eggs?

The egg-freezing process doesn’t take all your eggs. Our egg reserve consists of a million follicles at birth, with some naturally being recruited every month to produce an egg. 

The egg-freezing process chooses to “rescue” all the follicles that may be recruited in a month, rather than all the follicles in your ovary.

“We try to maximize egg growth and development with hormonal medications to increase the number of retrieved eggs” says embryologist Navya Muralidhar. “So at the most, we get all the eggs from follicles that would’ve been recruited for that month, or for that menstrual cycle”. 

We cannot tap into the egg reserve and we cannot stimulate follicles that aren't already there, that have been released into the ovary at the start of that cycle, says Dr Lisa Stradiotto.

Aka, the rest of your follicles are all safe, in their baby phase, sleeping away in your ovaries. 

Does egg freezing cause menopause?

No, egg freezing does not cause menopause. There is a misconception that egg freezing takes away a lot of your eggs in the ovary, leading to early menopause. But during egg freezing, the hormonal medication given can only work on the group of follicles that your body has already decided to grow, for the month. 

These eggs are destined to be removed from the ovary, regardless of an egg-freezing cycle. Hence, during egg freezing, we end up rescuing and maturing most of these eggs. Since only these are selected, your egg reserve stays undisturbed.

How long does egg freezing take?

The Egg freezing timeline takes an average of 2-3 weeks. It may vary slightly based on your response to the medication and the growth of the follicles. This duration is between the start of your period and the beginning of the next period.

The biggest risk of egg freezing is having an overstimulated response to hormonal medication- leading to Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or OHSS.

“In this case, your ovaries may swell up, get painful and there may be more eggs produced than the expected number” says embryologist Navya Muralidhar. 

The symptoms of OHSS include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, rapid weight gain, and decreased urination.

But routine checkups involve patient history and bloodwork, which can let healthcare providers know of the risk beforehand. This means that while OHSS is a risk, the occurrence is quite rare. 

“When we know that you're at risk of OHSS, we often shift to a modified form of IVF such as IVM or in vitro maturation, which can prevent that from happening,” says Navya Muralidhar. 

Also read: What are the side effects and risks of egg freezing?

How long can I store my eggs for?

Usually post egg freezing, you may be asked for a storage time and a consent form informing the same. The period usually quoted by IVF clinics can range from 5-10 years. 

But legally in the UK, you can store frozen eggs for upto 55 years. This is if you renew your consent for storage, every 10 years.

What are egg-freezing success rates?

As of 2016, around 18% of egg-freezing cycles were successful, resulting in live birth. The success rates were at 30% with donor eggs. In a more recent study done at the UK’s largest donor bank, it was found that success rates stood at 37.9% for donor eggs.

Egg freezing? Think Amilis

There’s a lot to consider before you start your egg-freezing journey. But we’re here to support you on the same path, with resources that make it easier.

Everyone’s situation is unique- and our team at Amilis understands and supports that. We’re a pitstop for sourcing budget-friendly clinics in London, and our personalized quiz can help you hone in on what you’re looking for, and the best clinic for your journey.

Remember, you’re not alone. We’re here for you, supporting you every step of the way

References
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.