How much does it cost to freeze your eggs?
June 1 2023 | Written by Rheanna Summers (She/Her)
Egg freezing is one of those procedures that I’ve heard of but never really looked into. It seemed to me that celebrities were the most likely to undergo egg freezing. However, the more that I’ve read, the more I’ve come to realize just how many people from different backgrounds are seeking out this procedure. And while our last blog here at Marlow covered the basics of egg freezing, we also asked for feedback from you guys, our readers. And it seems that there is still much to unpack! So, without further ado, let us dive into the nitty gritty of egg freezing. In case you missed our first blog on egg freezing, feel free to take a second and familiarize yourself with what it is prior to reading this blog.
Reclaiming reproductive rights
Over the past few years there seems to have been an increasing trend in oocyte cryopreservation – also referred to as egg freezing. Some people have attributed these shifts in attitudes towards egg freezing to be as a result of the pandemic, given the jump in people who have been seeking it out between now and 2020. That being said, while the motives for undergoing egg freezing often vary from person to person, when it is not medically motivated, some common reasons include wanting to be more financially, emotionally, or physically mature prior to choosing to have kids.
For some, egg freezing is viewed as being an act of reclamation over reproductive rights and a person’s control over their bodies. Over time, even certain egg freezing companies have marketed these procedures as “a form of self-care”. And while there is validity to these reasons for egg freezing, medical experts have expressed concern over the true motives behind certain for-profit “boutique” egg freezing companies. For instance, this one article that I came across goes into depth regarding the sometimes problematic lengths that “boutique” egg freezing providers go to in an effort to encourage clients to choose their service. And according to some medical experts, there is skepticism of whether or not clients are properly looked after, medically. In a world where egg freezing is being marketed towards people who are typically having kids later in life, it can be difficult to see some of the potential downsides to egg freezing when it seems overwhelmingly like a win-win scenario. However, hopefully through this blog and your own research, you are able to make an educated and informed decision to go through a procedure like oocyte cryopreservation.
Does the procedure/journey hurt?
It turns out a lot of our readers (including me) are interested in knowing how oocyte cryopreservation could impact our bodies, whether that means physically and/or mentally. And while I’ve never gone through this process before, it has been interesting to also research whether or not there are impacts on a person’s sexual desire as well as menstruation. Full disclosure, given that I am not a doctor, I’d strongly urge you to speak with a medical professional regarding the impacts of egg freezing. However, these are some common impacts that I’ve read about in my research.
Honestly, it seems hard to say. Overwhelmingly, the research points towards the procedure not being painful as you are placed under anesthesia when they retrieve the eggs. However, there is the preparation ahead of time which involves injecting oneself with hormones, multiple times. In my opinion, the best way to explain the egg freezing process is to liken it to undergoing IVF, minus the transfer. However, according to one perspective that I found whilst researching for this blog, the lingering pain from the procedure was worse than what was initially told to a person who did undergo oocyte cryopreservation. Here is a link to an article that outlines a very powerful firsthand view into egg freezing. In this article, the author, Eleanor Morgan provides an open and honest perspective into their experience with oocyte cryopreservation, after they were determined to be infertile following a ruptured appendix. I found this article to be quite interesting because it also touches on the risks of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
What is OHSS you may be asking? Well, I was too! Basically, my understanding is that it happens when ovaries become overstimulated when undergoing the process of oocyte cryopreservation. It can be quite severe, with symptoms such as gastric reflux, shortness of breath and pain. Some experts say it is rare, with it occurring in an estimated 5% of IVF and egg freezing cycles. However, one point to note that I came across is that OHSS can be more common in patients with PCOS as well as younger patients. And given the push for younger people to undergo egg freezing as a step towards their future, there may be more of a risk of encountering OHSS, as Eleanor Morgan also discusses in the article linked above.
Will egg freezing affect my mood? What about my mental health?
Yes, according to some sources it is possible for mood to be affected. Mood swings may be a side effect of egg freezing, due to elevated estrogen levels from stimulated ovaries. Other common symptoms prior to egg retrieval include headaches, hot flashes, and nausea. Post egg retrieval procedure, symptoms that are common to experience include bloating and cramping.
With regards to the impacts of egg freezing on mental health, it is tough to determine the true extent of what it looks like. The mental load of experiencing an increase in mood swings can be a lot, especially while needing to keep up with a strict injection regimen. This is a great article that I found which both outlines the various ways that a person’s mental health can be impacted by egg freezing, as well as provides helpful tips. Ultimately, in my opinion, it comes down to having open and transparent discussions about what oocyte cryopreservation actually looks like, by shining a late on both the great and the not so pleasant aspects to it.
Are there any long-term risks to be aware of?
In terms of whether egg freezing impacts a person’s future chances of pregnancy and overall fertility, it doesn’t appear so, according to experts. At one point there were whispers of whether or not egg freezing could be linked to an increased risk of cancer. Due to the medications and added hormones that are used to stimulate the ovaries during the egg freezing process, there has been research done into whether it contributes to both ovarian and breast cancer. However, it should be noted that there is more research that must be done prior to truly drawing that conclusive connection.
How many eggs do they take?
The actual number varies by person to person, because it seems that it definitely depends on how successful the retrieval is. On average though, it can be anywhere between 10-20 eggs.
Will your eggs go bad eventually?
No, in Canada there doesn’t appear to be an expiry on frozen eggs! That being said, this point can differ from country to country so it’s best to do your research for the country that you were hoping to get the procedure done.
How much does it cost?
Now for the grand finale and most asked question… how much of a dent is this going to put in my wallet!? Well, it can really vary, but the general range in Canada is approximately $10,000 for the egg freezing process. However, you’ll also have to budget around $300 per year to store the eggs and $6000 for an IVF cycle once you’re ready to use them. So, just like that, the costs can quickly add up to $20k+. Keep in mind, it’s common to go through multiple rounds of IVF, so that recurring $6000 fee can really add up. There is unfortunately no national coverage in Canada for this process, however some provinces and even some companies offer partial coverage. For example, Ontario covers one IVF cycle per patient through the Ontario Fertility Program for those under 45 with a OHIP card. In the United States, costs are relatively similar. Lilia, an egg-freezing concierge service based in the US, has a complete cost guide to egg freezing that presents a thoughtful and comprehensive deep dive into the cost of freezing your eggs.