The large array of fertility options for our LGBTQ+ community may feel daunting. From working with donor eggs or sperm, to finding gestational carriers, to learning about fertility preservation options, there are so many considerations on your path to parenthood. 

Today, we’ve partnered with our friends at Spring Fertility to discuss some important considerations related to egg freezing so that you can make the most informed decisions about your reproductive health and family planning options going forward.  {you can also watch an IG Live we did with one of their doctors – Dr. Temeka Zore – on Fertility Preservation}.

Who is a candidate for egg freezing?

Anyone with ovaries who is looking to preserve their fertility for future options. From cisgender women to trans men, if you have ovaries and have a strong preference for your future children to be genetically related, egg freezing is a great way to keep your options open for when you’re ready to start a family. 

Why should I freeze my eggs? 

In short, options. Even if you’re not sure when or if you’ll feel ready to have kids in the future, freezing your eggs can provide peace of mind today. Many people with ovaries choose to freeze their eggs for different reasons. 

They may already know that they will likely have trouble getting pregnant down the road, they may be focusing on career opportunities, or they may be waiting to meet the right partner to raise children with. There are no wrong reasons for deciding to freeze your eggs. 

What does it cost to freeze your eggs? 

It can vary from clinic to clinic, but you should expect to budget anywhere from $7-$10K in the United States, not including medication costs, if you are paying out of pocket. At Spring, we believe in making egg freezing more accessible and offer a $0 down, zero interest payment plan which ends up being $244/month over three years.

If you are fortunate enough to have fertility benefits through your employer, you can speak with your Human Resources department to learn more about your coverage.

Does egg freezing affect my future fertility? 

It does not. Just like being on birth control does not prolong your fertility, freezing your eggs does not decrease your future fertility. During any given ovulation cycle, multiple follicles in your ovaries are activated. Ultimately, only one follicle begins to mature and the egg inside is released into the fallopian tube. All of the other follicles that were stimulated but did not mature die off. By freezing your eggs, you are actually saving eggs that would otherwise have “died” during this natural process. 

When should I freeze my eggs? 

Everyone has different goals and there is no ‘right time’ that is best for everyone.  We do know, however, that eggs are healthiest when individuals are in their mid 20’s. This is when individuals have the most follicles and eggs are more likely to be chromosomally ‘normal’. 

It is important to note that while the ‘quantity’ of eggs that we can expect to retrieve in a given egg freezing cycle declines linearly over time, egg quality (or the likelihood that a future embryo will be chromosomally normal) begins to decline more rapidly in an individual’s mid- to late-30’s. We see patients opting to freeze their eggs through their early 40’s.

Because there is no ‘one size fits all’ and everyone’s biology is different, we recommend visiting a fertility specialist to get a better understanding of your unique situation and to work with your physician to create a plan that works with your individual goals.

Do I have to use my frozen eggs if I want to get pregnant in the future? 

It depends. Most individuals with ovaries can get pregnant naturally and their eggs become a backup plan or insurance policy. People also may want to use them for a second or third child; they’re ready when you are! If you are a trans man and have chosen to undergo hormone replacement therapy, your options may look different if you’d like to be genetically related to your child. More on that in the next question!

I’m a cisgender woman, what happens when I’m ready to use my eggs? 

When you’re ready, your eggs are thawed, fertilized with sperm, and ultimately transferred back to your uterus as embryos.

I’m a trans man, what happens when I’m ready to use my eggs?

Depending on if you have chosen to transition medically, the answer may be different. While it is possible for trans men to stop taking testosterone for a period of time to get pregnant, it is mostly unknown what long-term effects testosterone and hormone replacement therapy have on fertility. The good news is, if your eggs were frozen, you have multiple options. While carrying the pregnancy yourself is an option, it may not be one you are interested in. Trans men can also donate their eggs to a female partner to undergo reciprocal IVF as well as use a gestational carrier.

What is the egg freezing process like?

Protocols can vary but egg freezing is typically a two week process involving:

  1. 10-14 days of hormone stimulation, culminating in a final “trigger shot” 36 hours before the egg retrieval
  2. Usually 5 monitoring appointments
  3. The egg retrieval: a 20 minute procedure under sedation (you are asleep with an anesthesiologist present but you are not intubated or paralyzed)

Does it hurt? 

For the most part, no, though injections can cause minor irritation and discomfort. During the retrieval, you’ll be under anesthesia for ~20 minutes. Most patients wake up with minimal discomfort or cramping that does not require additional medication. For the few patients who experience more severe cramping, rarely do they need more than Tylenol or ibuprofen (Advil).

I have more questions, where can I get answers? 

For more information (and lots more FAQs!) you can check out Spring Fertility’s Egg Freezing FAQs or by watching their Egg Freezing 101 Webinar! We also have a webpage dedicated to individuals or couples who identify as LGBTQ+ and want to learn more about their options.