USC Fertility

The Egg Freezing Process

Learn about the egg freezing process

Egg freezing allows women to preserve their fertility while their egg supply is at its best, so they can focus on their current priorities now and on family-building later. Fertility preservation is a great choice for young women who want to focus on school or careers, cancer patients who want to protect their ability to have a child, and women who need IVF to become mothers but don’t want to freeze embryos.

Demystifying the egg freezing process is an important first step in understanding all of your options.

Freezing eggs protects your ability to have a baby later in life, even as your egg supply diminishes over time. Our Los Angeles egg freezing center has helped countless women protect their future fertility through egg freezing. We are happy to share our expertise with you as you explore the process and decide if egg freezing is right for you.

The egg freezing process, step by step

The fertility preservation process is identical to the process used during IVF, except that the retrieved eggs are frozen instead of being immediately fertilized.

After all preliminary fertility testing is completed, the egg freezing process takes four to six weeks, from initial medication through egg retrieval.

Getting started with ovarian stimulation

  • Baseline fertility testing includes an ultrasound exam of your ovaries and uterus, as well as blood work to check the levels of specific hormones, including follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol.
  • The next step in the egg freezing process is ovarian suppression, in which you will take birth control pills for two to four weeks, plus daily self-injections of Lupron for about two weeks. (If you are a cancer patient, this step may be skipped, so you can begin cancer treatment faster.)
  • Additional testing, including ultrasound and blood tests, is done to ensure that ovarian suppression has been achieved.
  • Then, while continuing lower-dose Lupron injections, you will begin nightly injections of ovarian stimulation medication for 10 to 14 days.
  • On Day 5 of ovarian stimulation injections, you will return to our office to begin cycle monitoring, including ultrasounds and blood testing every day or two.
  • Once your eggs are mature and ready for retrieval – typically between Day 8-12 – a “trigger shot,” or injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is administered at exactly the right time.

In-office egg retrieval

  • Exactly 36 hours after the hCG injection, your eggs will be retrieved at our Los Angeles egg freezing center, under intravenous anesthesia, using a needle placed through the vagina with ultrasound guidance.
  • All retrieved eggs are immediately frozen through a process called vitrification, in which the eggs are dehydrated and fluid is replaced with a special “anti-freeze” that prevents the formation of damaging ice crystals.
  • The final step in the egg freezing process is placement of your eggs into long-term storage, where they will remain frozen until you’re ready to use them.

After egg freezing and storage

  • When the time is right to try for a baby, your eggs can be thawed and each injected with a single sperm. This process, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, allows the sperm to penetrate the shell of the egg for fertilization, which hardens during the egg freezing process.
  • The resulting embryos are allowed to grow in the laboratory for several days, and a good-quality embryo is then selected for transfer to your uterus.
  • Any remaining healthy embryos can be frozen for future pregnancy attempts.

Our Los Angeles egg freezing center recommends that you store at least 10 eggs for each attempt at pregnancy. So, if you’ve always dreamed of having two or more children, and 10 or fewer eggs are retrieved, we encourage you to repeat the egg freezing process to store enough eggs for future family planning. For most fertile women younger than 39, about 10 to 20 eggs are retrieved in each cycle.

Preserve your fertility

Freezing your eggs is like investing in an insurance policy for your fertility. You may not ever need frozen eggs to build your future family, but if you do, you’ll be glad that you did everything possible to increase your chances for having a baby later in life.

To learn more about the egg freezing process, contact us to schedule a consultation at our Los Angeles egg freezing center.