Protocols can vary but egg freezing is typically a two week process involving:
1. 10-14 days of hormone stimulation, culminating in a final “trigger shot” 36 hours before the egg retrieval
2. Usually 5 monitoring appointments
3. The egg retrieval: a 20 minute procedure under sedation (you are asleep with an anesthesiologist present but you are not intubated or paralyzed)
Some patients may additionally benefit from two weeks of hormonal preparation prior to beginning stimulation. The addition of these medications helps follicles grow at the same rate to optimize the number of eggs retrieved.
Our goal is to obtain the greatest numbers of healthy eggs from your ovaries. The eggs begin in a small “antral” follicle in your ovary. Ovarian stimulation gently prompts these follicles to grow or “mature” a cohort of eggs. You will follow this process and can see how we measure your follicles during your monitoring appointments, which are usually 20-30 minute morning visits leading up to your retrieval. Based on the growth of your follicles, assessed via ultrasound, and hormone levels, assessed via blood tests, we adjust your medications and time your final injection, the “trigger shot” which causes the eggs to finally mature in preparation for retrieval.
Some patients report bloating and feel tired from the hormones. These effects are usually well tolerated and do not require treatment.
For the most part, no, though injections can cause minor irritation and discomfort. We’ll provide instructions and tips to make it easy. During the retrieval, you’ll be under anesthesia for 20 minutes. Most patients wake up with minimal discomfort or cramping that does not require additional medication. For the few patients who experience more severe cramping, rarely do they need more than Tylenol or ibuprofen (Advil).
The idea of giving yourself injections can be intimidating. While many people feel anxious the first or second time, hundreds of thousands of women have safely undergone hormone stimulation and find that they quickly get used to administering their own medications. Some patients have a friend or partner help with the injections. We also work with several nurses who offer home visits to administer nightly injections.
We’ve created medication instruction videos in case you need extra support during the process. You can browse our full library of videos here.