What does the trigger shot feel like, and how is the retrieval under anesthesia? Here’s Ovally founder Kathy’s personal account starting 36 hours before her egg retrieval until a few hours after the procedure. If you’re interested in the hormone stimulation period leading up to the egg retrieval, check out the previous blog post.
Egg/embryo freezing & IVF: What’s the stimulation period like? A personal account (1/3).
It’s one thing to read a summary of what happens during egg freezing or IVF, but we’ve found it’s often more helpful to read an honest, personal account of what every day of a treatment actually feels like. When Ovally founder Kathy froze embryos in Spain, she blogged about it every day – below is an unedited version of what the “stimulation period” was like for her, when she was giving herself daily injections of follicle-stimulating hormones. Even though everyone’s experience is slightly different, we hope that this will make the procedure more tangible:
How do I know how fertile I am? Is there a test I can take?
We’ve been getting a lot of questions about fertility tests and other predictors of fertility from our customers who’re preparing for their fertility treatment with Ovally. For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on women’s fertility and what is available to test it, though keep in mind that it’s only half the story. The one predictor of fertility that probably comes to mind for most of us is age. We could write a whole post about the controversies of age-related fertility decline but will focus on hormone levels and fertility tests here. Suffice it to say that some frequently cited data on age-related fertility decline are very old and come with all kinds of confounds, but there is well established evidence that pregnancy success rates for women needing treatment for fertility issues decrease significantly with age, while rates of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities increase. A few studies comparing natural conception rates of women in their 30s and 40s have also shown that conception rates decrease and time to conception increases with age.
Which fertility add-on treatments are effective and worth the investment?
The Human Fertilization & Embryology Authority (HFEA) in the UK has released a report testing various popular “add-on” fertility treatments from embryo glue to pre-implantation screening and endometrial scratching. These add-ons are fertility treatments that are typically offered at an additional cost. Six of the techniques the HFEA examined are still relatively new or have conflicting evidence. Another six techniques have been around for a while without evidence of their effectiveness. We’re hoping this evaluation of add-on treatments will be helpful for our Ovally customers, as well as anyone else undergoing fertility treatments.
What happens to surplus embryos from IVF or embryo freezing?
We’ve at times talked about eggs and embryos in a somewhat utilitarian way on this blog. However, thinking about the fate of human embryos and eggs is a complex and deeply personal matter. The complexity of how people feel and think about frozen eggs or embryos is reflected in different countries’ legislations about what you are and aren’t allowed to do with any surplus eggs or embryos. As assisted reproductive technologies that can create this kind of surplus haven’t been around for very long, some laws are still in flux or being updated.
What happens if I use my frozen eggs or embryos?
What happens if you use your eggs or embryos that you’ve frozen through Ovally or elsewhere later on? In the case of frozen eggs, the eggs would be thawed and then fertilized with your partner’s or a donor’s sperm. The resulting embryo(s) would develop in the lab until they’d be ready to be implanted in the uterus (typically on day 5 of development). Then one embryo (in rare cases more than one) would be implanted through a catheter inserted all the way into the uterus, which sounds really uncomfortable, but is usually painless. Ideally the embryo would implant there, and a few days later a blood test would confirm a pregnancy. In the case of frozen embryos, only the embryo implantation or “embryo transfer” would have to take place, as the eggs would already have been fertilized and developed.
To freeze eggs or embryos?
If you already know who the biological father of your child(ren) will be or are planning on using a sperm donor for your frozen eggs, it’s worth considering freezing embryos instead of eggs. However, there are also compelling reasons to only freeze eggs instead of embryos. We’ve made both treatments more affordable through Ovally and have listed compelling reasons for either option below so you can make a more informed decision together with your doctor:
Are more eggs always better for egg freezing or IVF?
Many women and couples we speak with at Ovally worry about the number of eggs they’ll be able to retrieve for egg freezing or IVF to increase their chances of having a baby. They’re often concerned that there might not be enough eggs, but also wonder whether more eggs are always better or whether more eggs could at some point pose more risks and diminishing returns. We dug into the research that addresses these questions and concerns – as usual, your doctor will be able to advise you on your particular case, but we hope that the below provides helpful scientific context.
How do I know if I have enough eggs?
We hear this concern frequently from our Ovally customers – and given the cost of each egg freezing or IVF cycle, it’s certainly warranted. While we recommend you talk to your doctor about this question, we wanted to share some data points on the topic that you can use going into your conversations:
How many eggs do I need (to freeze) for a baby?
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer to this question, and there aren’t a ton of data available yet on egg freezing, as it’s a relatively new technique, and many freezers haven’t used their eggs yet. A few studies suggest an average 5-10% chance that an egg will result in a live birth with a range of individual differences. These percentages translate into needing to freeze at least 15 eggs to be relatively sure that they’d result in one baby. The chances seem to increase the younger the eggs are.