Egg freezing preparation

Tim Bracewell-Milnes provides some advice for preparing for egg freezing, how the process works, whether certain conditions cause any issues and how your age can affect the outcome.

How can I prepare myself for egg freezing?

There is no strict preparation that is required before starting a cycle of egg freezing. If you are overweight this could affect the absorption of the medication so it is good to maintain as healthy a weight as possible. Smoking is also bad for egg quality, so it is best to quit smoking prior to egg freezing. There is no specific diet that needs to be followed before or during the process.

You don’t need to stop drinking alcohol completely during treatment, the odd glass of wine will not have any impact on the outcome. You should avoid heavy or binge drinking though. You can expect to feel tired after the ovaries have been.

How long does it take to freeze my eggs?

To freeze your eggs, you take a daily injection to stimulate the follicles to grow and develop an egg inside. You have regular scans every few days so we keep a close eye on how these follicles are growing. Once we have a good number of lead follicles we would stop the stimulation process and then book you for the egg collection procedure 2 days later. This whole process on average takes 14 days, and you usually come to the clinic for 4 scans in total.

The process itself is usually really well tolerated with very minimal side effects, so most patients chose to go about their social and working lives normally. You won’t feel like doing more vigorous exercise in the 2nd week of the stimulation process as the ovaries grow in size, which can be slightly uncomfortable. We will also make sure you feel well enough to leave, and this is quite normal, so we also recommend coming with a chaperone who can help you get home.

Can I freeze my eggs if I have PCOS?

Yes, you can. PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, means by definition that you have lots of follicles in your ovaries. This means you usually have a very good ‘egg reserve’ and your response to the stimulation drugs is usually very good, meaning we usually get a good number of eggs per treatment cycle. Therefore, women with PCOS are actually usually very good candidates for egg freezing.

Other common gynaecological conditions, such as endometriosis, also do not mean that you cannot freeze your eggs.

How late can I leave it before freezing my eggs?

As women get older the more commonly the egg will make a mistake dividing its genetic material, meaning there is an increased likelihood of the egg having the wrong number of chromosomes. This is what we mean by the term ‘egg quality’. This is why it is more difficult for women to get pregnant when they are older, and their miscarriage rate goes up.

Therefore, if you leave it too late, then egg freezing will often not be the right treatment option for you. A large study investigating female age and egg freezing concluded that women aged 36 and under were the best prognosis group in terms of outcomes if they used their eggs in the future. However, women it can still be a really good option for women in their late 30s.

To give an idea about egg freezing outcomes and female age, from Lister Fertility Clinic data for women who came back to use their eggs:

  • For a woman who froze her eggs under 34 years, she has a 90% chance of having at least one baby.
  • If a woman froze her eggs when she was 37 years old and has 20 eggs, this level falls to a 75% chance. 
  • For a woman aged 42 years when she froze her eggs, she would need to have 64 eggs frozen to have the same 75% chance.

More about Fertility treatments

Timothy Bracewell-Milnes Nov 23

Meet our fertility specialist

Mr Tim Bracewell-Milnes is a consultant gynaecologist and subspecialist in reproductive medicine and surgery at the Lister Fertility Clinic. He is passionate about delivering high-quality care and offers personalised treatment to each of his patients.

He is highly experienced in all areas of reproductive medicine including recurrent implantation failure, recurrent miscarriage, reproductive immunology and endocrinology, as well as the management of patients with a low ovarian reserve. He is able to perform specialised ultrasound scans including hysteron-contrast-sonography and saline infusion sonography. In addition, he performs laparoscopic and hysteroscopic surgical procedures.