Fertility Preservation FAQ

Will my chances for conception change if I choose to preserve eggs over embryos?

Your IVF provider will help answer this question during your initial consultation based on factors specific to your clinical picture. Eggs are frozen by a process called vitrification or flash freezing. With the advent of this process, pregnancy rates after egg freezing have improved tremendously over what they had been in the past.

What is the difference between IVF and fertility preservation?

The IVF and fertility preservation processes are very similar.

IVF patients intend to use their eggs, sperm, or embryos to have biological children in the immediate future, whereas those who elect fertility preservation choose to save their eggs or sperm for potential future use. To preserve eggs, you will go through the same steps that an IVF patient goes through, except that after the egg retrieval, the mature eggs are frozen within two hours of the retrieval time. In the future, when you desire to use these eggs, the eggs are thawed and can only be fertilized by a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI (where the sperm is injected into the egg to help it to fertilize).

Do I need to give myself injections for an egg retrieval?

Yes. You will receive specific training from a member of our care team on how to give injections of the medications that will be prescribed to you.

How long should I plan to be at the clinic on my egg retrieval procedure date?

You should plan to be in the clinic for about 2 to 2.5 hours for your egg retrieval procedure and recovery.

You will receive monitored anesthesia care under the supervision of an anesthesiologist during the procedure. The medications that you receive will cause drowsiness, fatigue, lightheadedness, and they will impair your motor skills. For your safety, you are required to have a responsible adult accompany you when leaving the clinic and who can drive you home after the procedure. You cannot work or drive on the day of your egg retrieval procedure.

What is the recovery time following egg retrieval?

Recovery time is usually very quick, approximately 30-45 minutes. You are fine to return to work the next day.

Is there anything I cannot do leading up to and immediately after my egg retrieval procedure? (e.g., exercise, alcohol consumption, etc.)

We recommend a healthy diet, plenty of rest, and a decrease in the intensity of exercise once you start fertility medications. Taking a leisurely walk or limiting lifting to no more than 40 is recommended. To decrease the potential for the twisting of an ovary after your procedure, you should restrict strenuous exercise (e.g., running, jogging, elliptical machines or jump rope) until your next menstrual period. There are no dietary restrictions after your egg retrieval, but it is recommended that you abstain or have protected intercourse until you have a period after the egg retrieval to prevent an unintended pregnancy.

How long will I feel the effects of the hormones after my procedure?

The peak effect of your medications happens approximately 7-10 days after the procedure. After that time, the ovaries will slowly reduce in size and return to normal following your next menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle will resume approximately 14 days after the egg retrieval.

What are my options if we don’t get enough eggs?

You can choose to repeat the cycle until you are happy with the number of eggs you have banked.

The chart below offers guidance on the number of mature eggs needed to have at least one live birth. It is important to recognize that various factors play a role in future fertility. Obtaining the recommended number of eggs may require more than one fertility preservation cycle and there is no definitive number of eggs that will guarantee a future pregnancy.

Chance of a live birth given age and number of mature eggs retrieved
Age # of eggs retrieved
10 20 30
≤35 70% 90% 97%
37 50% 75% 87%
39 40% 63% 77%
≥40 ≤ 30% ≤ 50% ≤ 66%

Source: Hum Reprod. 2017 Apr 1;32(4):853-859.

What do you do with my preserved eggs if they’re never used? (e.g., destroy, donate, research)

Your eggs will remain in storage at our IVF Center for 6 months after your egg retrieval procedure. After that, your eggs will automatically be shipped to our long-term third-party storage provider. Your eggs will remain in cryo-storage with our long-term third-party storage provider indefinitely until you detail in writing what you wish to do with them. Storage fees will apply once the eggs are sent to the long-term storage provider.

Please speak to your personal infertility provider about any questions or concerns not addressed here. 

Source: Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Department, The Permanente Medical Group