If you freeze your eggs and decide later you’re ready to start a family, great! It’s time to take advantage of your back-up plan.
There’s no known limit on how long your eggs can be frozen.
The longest successful thaw came after 14 years, and many healthy babies have been born from eggs frozen for 5 to 10 years. Once frozen, your eggs will be safely stored in a highly secure facility where they’ll be preserved until you’re ready for them. Learn more about long-term storage.
Once you’re ready, the eggs are carefully thawed and fertilized to create embryos.
This process is the same as what you’d see in an in vitro fertilization cycle: first, the eggs are thawed in a highly controlled lab environment. Then, they are combined with sperm (either from a partner or a sperm donor) in individual culture dishes and allowed to develop for 3–6 days. A percentage of the eggs will fertilize and begin to divide, creating blastocysts (embryos) that are ready for transfer back into the woman’s body.
The embryos will be transferred back to your uterus.
In a quick non-surgical procedure, a doctor will use ultrasound guidance to insert a soft catheter through the cervix and into the uterus. The embryos (usually no more than one or two) flow through the catheter and into the uterus, where hopefully, one will implant. After about 10 days, a blood pregnancy test can determine if the procedure was a success!
Not every frozen egg will successfully fertilize or implant.
Just like with fresh eggs, not every frozen egg will become an embryo—statistically, some will be genetically abnormal and unable to fertilize. And not every embryo created will successfully implant into a woman’s uterus. That’s why, for most women, we recommend freezing 12 eggs—or one year’s worth of fertility—for a good chance at pregnancy. Like everything in life, egg freezing provides no guarantees, but for women who want to delay childbearing, using eggs frozen while they’re young increases the chance of a healthy pregnancy later in life.
You don’t have to use your frozen eggs.
You might be considering egg freezing because you’re simply not sure of your future plans—and that’s okay. Some women who freeze their eggs go on to find a partner and get pregnant the old-fashioned way. (For them, their banked eggs may give them a chance at having a second or third child, if they choose.) And some women decide not to use their eggs at all. In that case, they may be able to donate them to a specific person for reproductive purposes or have their eggs appropriately discarded. Egg freezing is all about options for the future.