This is a sponsored post written in partnership with CCRM, a global pioneer in fertility science, research and treatment, with 11 locations across North America). All opinions are my own
This month my husband and I are celebrating our third wedding anniversary! With every year that goes by, we talk about having kids and when we’d like to expand our family. We both want to wait a few more years until we welcome a baby so we can do things like buy a new house, travel and spend time together as just the two of us. While it would be great to conceive and have kids naturally down the road, we know that it’s important for us to explore our options and ensure that welcoming children is something that we’ll be able to do in the future. One of the options that we’re considering is egg freezing.
But choosing an egg freezing center that’s right for you is a big decision. Whether you’re interested in egg freezing, IVF or egg donation, where you go matters. If you read my last blog post in partnership with CCRM, you know that they’re a leader in egg freezing and fertility services.
In today’s blog post, I’m going to walk you through the egg freezing process. My hope is that you’ll have a better understanding of how egg freezing works and then you’ll be able to determine if it’s something that you should explore. At CCRM, egg freezing is a four-step process. It involves a fertility assessment, ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval and egg freezing.
Here’s the inside scoop on exactly how the egg freezing process works at CCRM:
Step 1: Fertility Assessment
First, you will meet with your CCRM doctor to discuss your medical history, as well as your needs and expectations. On the third day of your period, you will have blood work to assess hormonal function which reflects your current fertility status (“ovarian reserve”) and a vaginal ultrasound performed to make sure that there are no structural abnormalities – this lets the doctor know how many eggs they may be able to retrieve. The results of these tests will allow your fertility specialist to assess your current fertility potential and to develop your personalized treatment plan.
Step 2: Ovarian Stimulation
Next, you will give yourself hormone injections to stimulate your ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible (the number should be reflected by your initial ultrasound evaluation). During this process, you will need to visit a CCRM clinic every few days to receive regular monitoring (ultrasound and blood work) to assess your response to the medications and to see if doses need adjusting. When your eggs have matured, your doctor will inform you that it is time to trigger the final stage of maturation and start the ovulation process (the release of your eggs) using a different injectable medication. Your eggs will be retrieved as described below.
During stimulation you will need to avoid any exercise that is jarring to your pelvis in order to protect your ovaries, which will increase in size as the follicles (cysts that contain the eggs) also grow, as well as avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine, medications and many herbal supplements. Your doctor or nurse will discuss what medications and levels of activity are safe for you to take during stimulation.
During stimulation you may experience symptoms similar to what you are accustomed to experiencing during your regular monthly menstruation including: fatigue, headaches, bloating, breast tenderness, cramping and mood swings.
Step 3: Egg Retrieval
Thirty-five hours after the “trigger shot,” your doctor will collect your eggs during a minor surgical procedure which is performed while you are under anesthesia, by placing a needle through the wall of your vagina into the follicles under ultrasound guidance. The day of the procedure, you will need a caregiver to drive you home and to stay with you for the rest of the day as the anesthesia wears off.
For a few days following your retrieval, you may be bloated and experience cramping and mild discomfort. You will be able to return to work within 24-48 hours following your retrieval and you will feel completely “back to normal” following your next period. You will need to refrain from exercising until after the next period starts.
Step 4: Egg Freezing
Once your eggs have been successfully retrieved, all mature eggs will be vitrified (rapidly frozen) and stored securely until you’re ready to use them. The embryologist will let you know how many mature, healthy eggs have been frozen.
The entire process to prepare for egg freezing and to retrieve the eggs generally takes 2-3 weeks for most patients, but it can vary depending on the specifics of your situation.
If you’re considering egg freezing, here are some things you should look for when selecting a clinic.
Is the clinic’s s thaw data and success rates exceptional compared to the other clinics you are considering? Freezing isn’t about the freeze, it’s about the clinic’s ability to help you achieve pregnancy when you’re ready to thaw your eggs and create embryos. When compared to others, CCRM’s results exceed most every clinic out there.
Is the clinic performing all services under one roof? This helps ensure quality control and can expedite test results, analysis and consistency of services. It’s best to freeze your eggs at the same place that thaws them. The industry’s newest boutique clinics do not offer anything more than egg freezing so patients are forced to set their sites on a completely separate facility to thaw the eggs and proceed with pregnancy pursuit. CCRM conducts all of its services in-house; meaning patients don’t have to go elsewhere to pursue any part of the fertility journey – this promises more safety, patient-to-physician connection and less stress overall.
Moreover, oftentimes, boutique egg freezing clinics will freeze and run. Meaning, once you’ve frozen your eggs, there’s no need to further your relationship with the physician and clinic. On the contrary, CCRM promises to be a “partner for life in fertility” from egg freezing, to IVF and 10 years down the line to check in and ensure your reproductive life is going smoothly. Whether that means having another baby or struggling to do so, CCRM physicians provide life-long support through simple and difficult journeys.
If you’re considering egg freezing, I encourage you to give your local CCRM center a call – someone will be able to help answer whatever questions you may have. If you’re ready to schedule an appointment, click here to make one online.
Everyone’s fertility journey is unique and no matter where you are in your fertility journey, CCRM aims to empower individuals and couples to make informed decisions that will positively impact their future. . I encourage you to make decisions that feel right to you and explore the options that you feel comfortable with. If you’re wanting to start a family of your own in the future, I wish you lots of luck. Just remember that CCRM is a great place to consider if seeing a fertility doctor is something that is right for you.