Are there any risks with egg freezing?
Before you make any kind of medical decision, we want to make sure you are informed with all the information, even the not so fun stuff. We reached out to the experts and put together some of the risks of Egg Freezing. Don't let this information scare you away – speak to an expert before making a decision. You can book time with one of our nurses here: Book a Consult
Thousands of women across the U.S. are freezing their eggs and thousands more are talking about it. Like any big healthcare (and financial!) decision, you want to understand all pieces of information – including the risks. We're here to give you the real deal.
Good news! The rate of complications from egg freezing remains very low. Egg freezing is a minimally invasive procedure that typically requires a sedative at the time of egg retrieval. If you were worried about going under general anesthetic, this is just an intravenous sedation medication (in other words, you will feel no pain or discomfort). Learn more about this with our partners at Extend Fertility here.
Eggs are retrieved from your ovaries using a long, thin aspiring needle. You may experience bleeding, and in some cases infection, in which you should contact your doctor. There is also a very small chance (we're talking less than 1%) for the potential for damage to the bowel, bladder, or a blood vessel. Again, talk to your doc if you are worried about this.
Before you’re ready for an egg retrieval, you’ll undergo a course of stimulating hormone treatment (for typically two weeks). These medications are injectable and oral, and they produce different side effects. However, only about 25% of women report any side effects, but if you do, what can you expect? Side effects typically include bloating, hot/cold flashes, headaches and mood swings. These side effects are associated with hormone fluctuation in the body and, not surprisingly, are therefore similar to the side effects of PMS around the time of your menstrual cycle. Some individuals describe it as “PMS on steroids.”
The more serious side effect attributed to the medications used in egg freezing is a condition known as Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome or OHSS. This impacts less than 5% of women, with less than 1% experiencing a severe case. As the name implies, your ovaries become “over stimulated,” or swollen, creating extreme discomfort. Additionally, there may be fluid build up in the abdomen. In rare but extreme cases, an ovarian torsion could occur, which would require surgery. For less severe cases, monitoring and bedrest would be prescribed.
The rates of OHSS have been falling as clinics develop better protocols to minimize this risk. Egg freezing patients are also closely monitored by their care team.
As described above, active treatment for egg freezing typically occurs over a two week period, after which side effects would abate completely within a few days in most cases.
We do not at this time have any evidence of long-term impacts of the egg freezing medications on your overall health. A 2014 study by Diergaarde and Kurta, for example, concluded no impact on ovarian cancer, while leaving the door open for future studies.
If you have any additional questions, speak to one of our expert Fertility Coaches! You can book a free 15 minute consult here: Book a Consult