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Fertility & Reproductive Health

Egg Freezing Offers Women the Ability to Preserve Their Fertility

University Hospitals Fertility Center offers elective egg freezing to eligible women who desire to store their eggs for future use.

Make an Appointment with a Fertility Specialist

To schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified reproductive endocrinologists, call 216-285-5028 today.

Egg freezing has allowed women to “bank” or freeze their eggs for later use. This allows women to potentially preserve their fertility if they are not ready to start a family during their years of peak fertility. Young women who are undergoing cancer treatment can also elect to freeze their eggs to preserve their future fertility.

A women’s fertility potential is dependent on the number of eggs in her ovaries. This number declines with age; women are most fertile in their 20s and early 30s, and fertility begins to decline after the mid-30s. The best time to freeze eggs is before age 40.

Egg freezing is now the gold standard in female fertility preservation. Since 2012, it has been designated as standard care and “non-experimental” by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine since 2012. While egg freezing does not guarantee a successful pregnancy, it can provide options for women who are interested in delaying conception. We also offer ovarian tissue freezing as an alternative method of preserving fertility.

The Process

Egg freezing begins with a physician consultation. Several tests, including ultrasound and blood work, will be ordered. Once testing is complete, the woman meets with a nurse to review medications and learn about the stimulation and egg retrieval process.

Ovarian Stimulation

The cycle begins with ovarian stimulation, which consists of 7 to 14 days of fertility injections. During the stimulation, the patient gives herself hormone medications by injection to encourage multiple egg development. The response to the medications is carefully monitored by vaginal ultrasounds and blood tests. When the ultrasounds and blood test indicate the eggs are ready, a final injection is given to prepare the donor for egg retrieval.

Egg Retrieval

Egg retrievals are done at the UH Fertility Center’s Risman Pavilion office at UH Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood. The patient will be given light sedation for the retrieval. The egg retrieval is done through the vagina by using ultrasound to guide a thin needle into the ovaries. The eggs are obtained by withdrawing the eggs from each of the follicles. We ask that the patient stay in the recovery area afterward for approximately an hour, after which she can be driven home. Most patients return to work and normal activities the following day.

Egg Freezing

After the retrieval, the eggs are carefully examined in our embryology lab. Eggs are evaluated for maturity, and are frozen using a technique called vitrification, that rapidly freezes the eggs to prevent ice-crystal formation. Eggs are stored in liquid nitrogen and can be frozen for years until ready for use.

Egg Thawing

Once the patient returns to use the frozen eggs, the eggs are thawed and fertilized with sperm (patient’s partner or selected donor sperm) using a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected into each egg. Fertilized eggs, called embryos, are allowed to grow in the lab for three to five days. An embryo is then transferred to the uterus. Extra embryos can be frozen for later use.

For more information about egg freezing, or to see if egg freezing is right for you, please contact the UH Fertility Center to schedule a consult with one of our physicians by calling 216-285-5028.