If you know that you want children, but you're currently focused on building a career, finding your S.O., or waiting for the right time, you're not alone. Biological clocks are definitely real, so it makes sense that some women want to freeze their eggs: A healthy 30-year-old woman, for example, has a 20% chance of becoming pregnant naturally, but her likelihood of conceiving decreases over the years. By 40, her odds drop to about 5%. No matter your age, it's imperative that you take care of your reproductive health if you want to get pregnant.
If you want to have children later in life, freezing your eggs may be a great option. However, the procedure isn't cheap.
Of course, the costs differ depending on where you live and your age, but the average price of just one egg-freezing cycle falls between $15,000 and $20,000. If you're considering freezing your eggs but want to understand the cost breakdown before making any decisions, we've got you covered. From the price of extracting your eggs to daily hormone injections, read on for five facts you should know about freezing your eggs.
You'll Be Charged Multiple Times
Jane Frederick, MD, a board-certified fertility expert, says that many couples don't realize they'll be charged multiple times throughout the egg-freezing process. A single cycle includes initial tests, injections, and retrieval surgery. Afterward, you'll be charged an additional annual storage fee (which can cost up to $2,000) to keep the eggs viable. Later, if you want to thaw and use the frozen eggs to become pregnant, your doctor will recommend in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Like egg-freezing, IVF is pretty expensive. According to FertilityIQ, one cycle of IVF costs $23,000.
Some Companies Cover Fertility Costs for Employees
In 2019, nearly 400 U.S.-based companies (including Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Liberty Mutual, and Chobani, to name a few) seriously invested in fertility benefits. For instance, some Fortune 500 companies offered IVF packages with absolutely no dollar limit, completely removing the financial burden on their employees looking to start families. For the most part, industries such as consulting, finance, tech, and media offer incredibly generous fertility benefits, including IVF. So if you can't fathom paying the incredibly high costs of fertility treatments, consult your company's benefits program to see if they'll help subsidize the expenses. It's also worth asking if your plan covers egg-freezing in addition to IVF.
The Success Rate Isn't Known
Unfortunately, the exact success rate of frozen eggs resulting in pregnancies isn't super clear because not all women who freeze their eggs end up thawing and using them. Dr. Janis Fox, MD, told The New York Times, "I think patients may be under the misimpression that we're just going to put the eggs back in your body," which isn't the case. There are multiple steps between freezing your eggs and becoming pregnant: "An egg must be fertilized, grown into an embryo for about five days, screened for genetic abnormalities and then implanted in the womb and carried to term. The odds of success at each step are far below 100%," Dr. Fox explains.
It Is an Intense Process
After a consultation with your doctor, a lot happens before you actually freeze your eggs. First, your doctor will draw blood to evaluate your ovarian reserve (the capacity of your ovaries to provide viable eggs) and screen for infectious diseases. You'll also probably have an ultrasound to make sure your ovaries and uterus are healthy and functional. Next, you'll inject yourself with synthetic hormones to stimulate your ovaries, and you'll take a pill that prevents you from ovulating before egg retrieval.
You'll then go in for another ultrasound, which is when your doctor will confirm that you're ready for egg retrieval. You'll give yourself another injection, this time of human chorionic gonadotropin, which helps the eggs mature faster. Once they've matured, you'll go back to your doctor's office for the actual retrieval.
One of the steps of freezing your eggs is retrieval, a surgery that can be quite painful. If you are very uncomfortable with the retrieval process (which involves the doctor inserting an ultrasound probe and an extra-long hollow needle that, using suction, plucks out the eggs one-by-one), tell your doctor that you'd like anesthesia. Most doctors use a propofol-based anesthesia, which will put you to sleep like general anesthesia does, but you will be able to breathe on your own.
It's a Good Option If You Have Certain Illnesses
Though freezing your eggs may be expensive, it could be worth it if you have certain cancers for which you'll undergo chemotherapy or surgery that can damage your ovaries or uterus. It's also a good option to consider if you have a family history of early menopause or Turner's Syndrome (which can cause premature ovarian failure). Even though you might not want children later, giving yourself the option may be a good idea.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine. "Waiting to Have a Baby? Advancing age decreases your ability to have children."
FertilityIQ. "The Costs of Egg Freezing Breaking Down The Likely Costs."
FertilityIQ. "The FertilityIQ Family Builder Workplace Index: 2019 - 2020."
Extended Fertility. Anesthesia for Egg Freezing. Updated September 7, 2018.