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Fertility Preservation aka Egg Freezing

Now that the ASRM has lifted the “Experimental” label on egg freezing (also known as oocyte preservation, fertility preservation, or egg banking), more attention is being focused on options available for egg freezing, and educating the public about treatment options and identifying when you are an ideal candidate.  This technology allows women to elect to delay childbearing for a few years or longer, but it is important that the eggs be frozen before a woman’s fertility is declining.

The full release points out the importance of the age of the woman at the time of freezing.  Ideally, a woman should consider preserving her fertility when she is at the peak of fertility – ideally in her late 20s, or very early 30s.   That is not to say it cannot also be done later, but the success rates of the future treatment with those frozen eggs will be directly related to her age and egg quality at the time of freezing.  Freezing your eggs doesn’t magically turn back the clock, it just gives you a chance of having similar or slightly lower odds that you would have had proceeded with ART/IVF treatment at the time of freezing.

Typically women elect fertility preservation either to simply to delay childbearing, because they are anticipating medical treatments (such as cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy) that may negatively impact their egg quality.

In the US, the cost of egg freezing has been typically estimated at around $10,000 – $16,000 per cycle including medications, although some clinics advertise fees as low as $5000.  However, a single cycle may not produce an adequate number of eggs, so additional cycles may be recommended (and may be available at a slighly lower cost per cycle depending on the clinic).   In addition to freezing costs, the woman also needs to consider the ongoing storage fees.  Typically the first year of freezing is included and each additional year is typically around $300 – $450, often with discounts if you prepay for multiple years.  However, for cases where fertility preservation is recommended due to pending cancer treatments, grants or discounts may be available to make egg freezing a more affordable option.

A lower cost alternative to typical US options is going abroad for egg freezing. Spain and the Czech Republic are popular destinations for this treatment. The cost for egg freezing abroad may start as low as $2500 per cycle (including medications), but you also need to factor in travel costs for 7 – 10 days in Europe for the stimulation and egg collection per cycle.   Frozen oocyte storage costs tend to be slightly less expensive as well, with typical costs as low as $100 per year or $350 for 5 years.

Patients also need to consider the cost of treatment once they are ready to fertilize the embryos and have them matured in the lab and then transferred.  These costs will vary by clinic, but at clinics abroad can start at around $2000, and typically you can travel for just a few days for the thawing, fertilization with fresh or frozen sperm, and embryo transfer a few days later.

Recently, some fertility doctors have gone so far as to suggest that fertility preservation would make an ideal college graduation gift.  Others argue that because there is risk inherent in taking stimulation medications required to produce the eggs, that absent a medical necessity, women should wait until their late 20s or very early 30s before making a decision to freeze their eggs.  This minimizes the likelihood that the frozen eggs might never be needed, yet still allows a woman to freeze the eggs while she is still likely in her peak fertility years.

For more information about options for fertility preservation abroad, contact Sue at IVF Traveler for a no obligation consultation.

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