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May 13, 2008

Egg Freezing 101

What it takes to put your fertility on ice.

fertility issues freezing eggs

After being dehydrated and refilled, eggs are frozen in tans of liquid nitrogen.

Photo Credit: Erin Patrice O'Brien

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1. Blood test to measure follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol levels on the third day of your period.

2. Ovary check with ultrasound to count follicles and confirm they’re healthy.

3. One month of birth-control pills to regulate cycle and synchronize follicles for stimulation.

4. Blood test to make sure hormone levels haven’t changed.

5. Ten- to 14-day regimen of injections to activate your follicles to produce eggs and to keep your body from prematurely letting go of them. Insurance often doesn’t cover this. (Mine didn’t, so I was on the hook for an extra $3000.)

6. Blood tests to check whether medication levels need to be adjusted, and frequent ultrasounds to measure how big the follicles are growing.

7. Thirty-six hours before the retrieval, shot of hCG hormone forces follicles to mature and triggers release of the eggs.

8. Retrieval day! 10 minutes of IV sedation. Ultrasonic probe needle pierces the vaginal wall and goes through each ovary to suck out the eggs.

9. Eggs are immersed in a solution that dehydrates and refills them to prevent ice crystals. Then they are slowly frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen.

Read one woman's personal story about freezing her eggs

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