What are the downsides to freezing your eggs?
January 16, 2014 7:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering freezing my eggs. What are the downsides to doing so (besides the enormous financial cost)? I'm mostly concerned with health risks and side effects. Any personal experiences or suggestions for resources would be welcome. Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have not had my eggs frozen, but I did go through 3 rounds of IVF with drug stimulation to produce eggs.

With respect to the drug stimulation to get the eggs, the regimen can be hard. You have to give yourself shots on a specific schedule and the drugs are not cheap. You also have to go in for pretty regular monitoring and then go through the egg retrieval. Some women have experienced Ovarian Hyperstimulation syndrome that does not look pleasant at all. Even then, you may not get a lot of eggs or a lot of good quality eggs.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 7:29 PM on January 16, 2014

What tafetta, darling says about the health risks and effects. I did three rounds of drug stimulation (for egg donation). I produced between 20-30 eggs each time, and only two eggs total (out of the around 80) turned into pregnancies. From what I understand the success rate with frozen eggs (rather than frozen embryos) is much lower, so you are putting yourself through a lot of unpleasantness for little chance at an outcome. (We lost about 8 of the embryos during defrosting, by the way, so defrosting issues can cause problems as well as just lack of success with implantation).

And to expand on tafetta's response, I found that during the stimulation I got migraines, my belly swelled (and didn't return to normal for months), I retained water, I was extremely tender around my belly. I couldn't bike for a few weeks, and couldn't exercise at all (barely even walk) for about 10 days. I couldn't have sex for weeks (beforehand because you have a big risk of getting pregnant with ridiculous numbers of multiples and afterwards because of the pain). I got OHS once and was borderline a second time.
posted by lollusc at 8:02 PM on January 16, 2014

Oh and to clarify about pain - it wasn't like I was in pain all the time (except when I had OHS), but rather that any sudden movement (or bouncing on a bike or in a car on a bumpy road, or orgasming) caused sharp pains around my ovaries. I guess because they swelled up they were crashing into other things internally?
posted by lollusc at 8:06 PM on January 16, 2014

Yup. Frozen eggs don't do nearly as well as frozen embryos. So look for a clinic that has data on success rates on oocytes resulting in pregnancy , because that is actually the tricky part.

As for actually getting the eggs, OHS vs. how many eggs you produce is a careful balancing act. OHS can be pretty severely painful, require hospitalization and even be life threatening. The risk of OHS is pretty high at the level of stimulation that results in 20-30 eggs. The risk is pretty low at the level of stimulation that produces 10-15 eggs. Of course, then you may need to do a stimulation course and retrieval more than once. But the amount of discomfort is minimal on the lower doses, so it's really just the having to remember to take the drugs on time and having to the doctors office once or twice a week for the 3-4 weeks of each course.

(Also, I was told absolutely no sex during the courses, but that was just last year, after the whole octo-mom debacle.)

The mental health benefits I have reaped from doing it are priceless. I not only have a few chances on ice, but I also have the knowledge of a full fertility work up: what my risks and likelihood of success are. This has brought me an immense amount of peace. That alone was worth the price.
posted by susiswimmer at 11:07 PM on January 16, 2014

I did stims and didn't notice any side effects other than being very irritable to my husband for a few days. Giving myself shots seemed hard at first but within 3 days I preferred to do it myself than have husband do it.

As a caveat though, I was on a low dose stim plan because of my PCOS. I had 2 follicles after about 10 days of stims.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:34 AM on January 17, 2014

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