In an eggshell...
- Freezing eggs is a method to preserve your fertility, for your particular page. On the other hand, freezing embryos requires sperm, and in a way, freezes your possible future offspring
- The cycle lengths, medications used, and procedure differ- for freezing eggs and embryos
- The decision to either freeze eggs or embryos- is ultimately down to you, your health and personal preference!
Suppose you've scoured the internet for any terms related to fertility preservation, or procedure. In that case, you may have come across the two most common ones: egg freezing and the other, embryo freezing.
And if you've wondered: Hmm, that does sound a little similar.. you're not the first.
One of the methods is a way to preserve your fertility. Imagine you're in your 20s and you have the capability to preserve your genetics and your fertility during that particular age.
And the other method is a way to preserve your future offspring but in the form of small, living cells, frozen away until use. But if you're wondering- which one is right for you, and which procedure you should go for, this article is for you.
Read on to find out!
Preserving fertility: eggs or embryos?
Here's a small, simple breakdown of the two processes, before we get down to their differences.
Egg freezing to preserve fertility
This is a common procedure, done for various medical and personal reasons, known as social or elective egg freezing 1. The entire idea here is to preserve fertility at younger ages when your genetics is also at its best!
That is because as we age, the genetics behind our fertility, and ability to conceive becomes a little more complex.
So how does egg freezing work?
In egg freezing, you will be put on a medicated cycle solely to ensure more eggs grow in that cycle. Then the growth and development are monitored, until the egg retrieval day.
On the egg retrieval day is when you’ll be under anaesthesia and the doctors get to work. With their equipment and an ultrasound probe, they puncture the follicles in the ovaries, and aspirate the eggs. These eggs then travel from the ovaries, in a tiny wire-like tube, until they’re finally settled in a laboratory tube (It’s like a fun water slide from the ovaries till the lab tube). This tube is what reaches the embryologist, who then begins their “find the egg” hunt, by pouring the fluid into dishes, and setting apart the eggs to be frozen.
After that, the embryologist checks for any mature eggs. The mature ones are then frozen in liquid nitrogen.
Embryo freezing to preserve fertility
Embryo freezing is also a common procedure but it’s done to preserve the fertilised product of an egg and sperm. In a way, this preserves you and your partner's fertility- or to be more precise, the fertilised product, a tiny ball of cells capable of growing into a baby.
How does embryo freezing work?
Embryo freezing has two steps- retrieving the sperm and egg out of the body. For the egg, an egg retrieval is done, and for the sperm, a sample is requested via ejaculation.
Then, these are fertilised via IVF or ICSI, which are procedures that co-incubate the sperm and egg together or inject a sperm inside the egg. The result? A mix of two genetic components, growing and dividing into cells to form the embryo.
At day 5-7 of embryo growth, it has to be either transferred- or frozen. This is because labs are only equipped with media that allows embryos to grow until that stage. In cases of embryo freezing, they are frozen away, either earlier during day 2-3 or on either day 5,6 or 7 until future use.
Understanding the differences: egg vs embryo freezing
Egg freezing vs embryo freezing: The Pros and Cons
The pros and cons of egg freezing
The pros and cons of embryo freezing
Egg freezing vs embryo freezing: which is right for you?
Ultimately, it comes down to your choice, combined with a plan and a talk with your healthcare provider. But to help you out, here's a simple self-evaluation checklist that can help you decide:
Should I go for egg freezing?
Based on your situation and goal, here are some factors to consider:
- Egg freezing takes a duration of 2-4 weeks. Am I ready for that?
- It requires medications on a day-to-day basis, along with constant ultrasound appointments, am I okay with that?
- The final frozen egg number may vary compared to the estimates at the beginning. Has my doctor briefed me about this?
- Have I planned out a budget for egg freezing?
- Will I be able to handle my commute to the clinic for the duration of the cycle?
- Do I have a plan on how to proceed post-egg freezing? (A solid plan isn't necessary! It's okay to plan things out slowly, and step by step)
- If my plans change in the future, and I end up not using my eggs, am I okay with donating my eggs to another couple in need or for research?
- Do I need emotional support, and if I do, do I have the right resources around me? And healthcare providers I can trust?
Should I go for embryo freezing?
Based on your fertility treatment, medical history, and goal, here are some factors to consider:
- Egg freezing takes a longer duration of about 4-6 weeks. Am I ready for that?
- Requires medication on a day-to-day basis, and ultrasound until the egg retrieval, am I okay with that?
- Post my egg retrieval, there's a wait time of 3-4 days to check which eggs have fertilised, and which haven't. Am I willing to understand that these numbers may vary compared to estimates?
- Have I planned my budget out for the embryo freezing cycle?
- Do I have a vague idea of how long I want to keep it frozen for?
- Do I plan to have the frozen embryo transferred, or do I plan to have a child in the future?
- If not, am I okay with donating the embryos to another couple in need or for research?
- Do I have the right emotional support around me? And healthcare providers I can trust?
While this isn't an exhaustive checklist, this should give you a brief idea of the things to expect, in your egg or embryo freezing cycle. With this checklist, we hope you also understand the important things that you need within, and around you to partake in the process of preserving your fertility.
How Amilis can help you with your fertility goals
Be it egg freezing or embryo freezing- we understand that it's a carefully thought-out decision between you and your healthcare provider.
But it can be tough to navigate once you make your choice - which clinic should I trust? Can I commute to the place? Will I have a smooth journey?
That's exactly where Amilis comes in. Regardless of your decision, your journey to finding the right resources, clinics, or help, starts here.
If you’re starting with planning out your egg-freezing journey, you can even try Amilis’s personalized quiz to narrow down on your preferences.
Additionally, our vast resources on egg freezing can also help you make informed choices of choosing budget-friendly clinics, and deciding what works for you.
And don't forget, through it all, we're out here cheering for you 💪.
You've got this!