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Freezing of eggs 

Social freezing - egg freezing

Social Freezing  

Social freezing is offered to women who, for personal or work reasons, cannot or will not seek to achieve pregnancy at that time. In social freezing, the woman's eggs are frozen for use in achieving pregnancy at a later date.   

Why is egg freezing appropriate?  

In the female body, all eggs are already present before birth in the ovaries - typically around 1 million. No more eggs are produced during the woman's lifetime. We call the number of eggs in the ovary the woman's egg reserve. The egg reserve gets smaller every year as the eggs mature over time. Each ovulation 'uses' about 1000 eggs, although usually only one matures into ovulation. When a woman has no more eggs left, she goes into menopause. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can actively do to stop egg loss. However, lifestyle factors can help accelerate this loss - such as smoking.   

A woman's age also has an impact on egg quality. As a rule of thumb, the likelihood of malformations, pregnancy complications and miscarriages increases from the age of 35, while the likelihood of becoming pregnant decreases. In fact, this development already starts before the age of 35, but the impact is considerably less at this age.  

Freezing eggs can increase the chances of pregnancy later in life by retrieving and storing healthy eggs as early as possible.  

What is the process for freezing and using unfertilised eggs?

Freezing and using unfertilised eggs is a 4-step process:

1. Hormone stimulation

Women usually mature one egg per cycle. In the ovary, almost 1000 eggs 'fight' to mature every month in a normal cycle. The aim of hormone stimulation is to mature around 10-15 eggs, so that we have more to freeze. This is achieved by stimulating with a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Stimulation lasts 10-12 days and is followed by scans with our fertility doctors. When the follicles surrounding the eggs are the right size, the eggs are ready for retrieval. To prepare for egg collection, an ovulatory injection (ovitrelle or gonapeptyl) is taken.

2. Egg collection

Egg retrieval is done under local anaesthetic using a thin needle inserted through the vagina. This procedure typically takes 15-20 minutes.

3. Freezing and storage

The eggs collected are frozen at minus 196°C and can be safely stored for decades in this state. The more eggs stored, the greater the chance of getting pregnant.   

4. Fertilisation

If it later turns out that pregnancy cannot be achieved naturally, the frozen eggs can be used. These are fertilised with the sperm of the partner or a sperm donor in the laboratory and then implanted in the uterus.

How many eggs need to be retrieved?

Freezing eggs increases the likelihood of a later pregnancy, but it cannot be guaranteed. To further increase the chances, more eggs are usually frozen and stored. The older the woman is at the time of egg freezing, the less likely she is to become pregnant later, as egg quality has already been reduced. We therefore recommend freezing unfertilised eggs before the age of 35

Risks and side effects of egg freezing

According to several studies, children born after pregnancy with frozen eggs have about the same risk as children born after pregnancy with assisted fertilisation (IVF/ICSI). There are the same risks associated with stimulation for social freezing as there are with stimulation and egg retrieval for IVF treatment.   

The drugs routinely used for hormone stimulation are generally effective and safe. However, as with many drugs, there are some undesirable effects associated with their use. These are not experienced by everyone, although some are more common than others.   

OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) a potentially serious complication of controlled ovarian stimulation. Mild OHSS is common and usually gets better on its own with time. More severe cases require specialist treatment and may require hospitalisation. Egg retrieval is a routine part of every IVF cycle. While it is common to experience mild pain after egg retrieval, severe pain is uncommon. If the small blood vessels on the ovary are damaged by the egg retrieval needle, there is a chance that bleeding may occur. This bleeding is usually minor and stops again. There is a small risk of pelvic or ovarian infection after an egg retrieval. Rarely, there may be damage to the ovaries or other organs in the abdomen and pelvis.  

Can I transfer oocytes frozen abroad to Denmark?  

Yes, you can, but it is a long process that requires a lot of paperwork. Contact your clinic for more information on what details it requires. Unfortunately, if the sending clinic cannot provide the requested information or is not willing to sign a transport contract, our clinics cannot receive the oocytes.  

According to Danish legislation, unfertilised eggs can only be stored for 5 years after freezing. Therefore, we are unfortunately not able to receive unfertilised eggs that have been frozen for more than 5 years.


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