Find answers to the questions we’re asked about most often. If you don’t see your question here, contact us to find out more.
We are regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). We hold a licence to practise and are inspected regularly to ensure we provide high-quality care and are compliant with the required legislation.
The egg freezing process begins with a fertility assessment and doctor consultation. Once you decide to freeze your eggs, you’ll have an appointment to ensure you know how to administer your medication, sign relevant consent forms and confirm that you understand your cycle schedule. How long these first few steps take is up to you—some women come in for an initial appointment and freeze their eggs with their next period, while some take more time to consider their plans and options.
We are ready to start your treatment when you call us to tell us your period has started – and from then the egg freezing cycle itself takes about 14 days.
Eggs are frozen using a technique of vitrification - a “flash freezing” method which cools cells so quickly (to a temperature of -196º Celsius) that they become “glass-like” or “vitrified”.
Fast freezing reduces the likelihood ice crystals forming in the egg, which could damage its internal structure. At London Egg Bank we have a specific set of strict protocols for egg cryopreservation and the highest egg survival rate in the country – at over 90%.
Egg freezing is a medical procedure in which eggs from the ovaries are retrieved and cryopreserved for an attempt at pregnancy at a later date.
Eggs are fast-frozen using a process known as vitrification, which preserves the eggs in a glass-like state and without damage. This means that vitrified eggs, once thawed, are just as likely to result in a pregnancy as fresh eggs.
Vitrification was first developed to preserve the fertility of women having treatment for serious health conditions. Today, however, it is just as popular with women who wish to preserve fertility for personal reasons.
Cryopreserving eggs gives you an opportunity to start a family when the time is right for you, whatever your reason. It might be that:
Freezing eggs provides the opportunity for making that decision later.
Once eggs are retrieved and frozen in a specialist lab, they can no longer age. However, as you get older, the remaining eggs in your ovary will decline in number and in quality, thereby reducing your chances of having a baby conceived naturally.
Freezing your eggs can thus preserve your fertility for the future. The age you are when you freeze your eggs is the age those eggs will be when you choose to use them.
This means that if you decide to use your frozen eggs several years later, your chances of achieving a successful pregnancy will be very similar to those you would have had at the time your eggs were frozen.
Egg freezing typically takes about 14 days and requires 8–11 days of hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs in one menstrual cycle.
During this time you will need several scans and blood tests to monitor progress in the ovaries and adjust medication if needed.
Around 36 hours before your egg collection procedure you'll be asked to take a “trigger” injection to mature your eggs.
Finally, there’s a 20-minute surgical procedure to retrieve the eggs from your ovaries. This is performed under mild anaesthetic.
The whole process, from the beginning of the injections through to the retrieval, is called a “cycle.” Find out more.
Our clinical team will help coordinate your appointments, medications, and schedule and be available to you at all times.
You may be sedated, and your eggs will be collected using a needle passed through the vagina and into each ovary under ultrasound guidance. This is a minor procedure that takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Your mature eggs will be frozen by our skilled embryologists and stored in liquid nitrogen in our secure facilities.
This depends on how sensitive you are. Injecting the medication is generally not painful for most of our patients. The needles are very thin and you inject them into the fatty tissue around your middle.
Some women feel bloated and crampy while taking the medication, but those side effects will stop after egg collection. The transvaginal ultrasound exams used during egg freezing aren’t painful, but they can be a little uncomfortable.
During egg retrieval you may be under sedation and therefore won’t feel anything. You may experience some pain when you wake up, like a little soreness or some abdominal cramping.
We recommend you take the day off work on the day of your retrieval, so you can rest for the remainder of the day. The vaginal soreness and cramping can last for a few days. But usually, the next day you can go back to your normal routine.
In general, the younger you are, the better. This is because you’ll be able to produce and freeze more eggs in one cycle, with a greater percentage of them genetically healthy.
As women get older their egg reserve and egg quality declines, so the younger you are the more eggs you’ll be able to produce and freeze in one cycle, with a greater percentage of them being genetically healthy.
Typically, you’ll be able to freeze the highest number of healthy eggs before you turn 30, slightly fewer from 30–35, and even fewer after 35.
In your mid-to-late 30s or early 40s you can at least partially compensate for poor egg quality by freezing more eggs. This usually requires multiple egg freezing cycles, but it can give you a better chance of eventually achieving a successful pregnancy.
Find out more about your fertility by taking a fertility health check. With this information, you and your consultant will be able to discuss whether egg freezing is right for you, and what results you can expect.
This is a very common question, and one that is difficult to answer. Put in the simplest terms, the more eggs you bank, the higher your chances of a pregnancy at a later date.
There is no magic number of eggs we would recommend for all women; what is realistic and desirable in your case will be discussed with you in detail during a fertility health check with a consultant.
How many eggs you need to freeze depends on several factors, the most important of which is age. Age at the time of freezing is the best way to predict how many eggs will be genetically normal, and so how many you might need.
While there isn’t a specific “magic number” to guarantee a pregnancy later on, women 35 or younger can feel confident that freezing 10 eggs will give them a good chance of creating at least one child. Studies suggest that for women aged 36–38 years about 15 eggs is recommended, while for women 38 and older the data is more limited and less clear - a cautious approach would be to aim for freezing 20 eggs or more.
A study published in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility in September 2017 suggest the following rough numbers:
These numbers are not exact, because there is so much variation between women, but should provide a guide.
There are other factors which will also affect how many eggs you should freeze, such as the results of your ovarian function tests (AMH blood test and antral follicle count scan), how many children you are hoping to have, and how many egg freezing treatment cycles you are willing to have. Your specialist will work with you to determine the correct target number for your own situation.
It depends. In general, when you are younger, you are more likely to freeze a higher number of eggs in one cycle. Younger women also produce a higher percentage of genetically healthy eggs, so they need to freeze fewer to begin with.
Many younger women will reach their egg freezing target in just one attempt, while older women are likely to need multiple cycles to reach their goal. As part of your fertility health check with our doctors, we’ll let you know how many eggs we think you’ll be able to freeze in one cycle.
For use for pregnancy, your eggs will be thawed and fertilised with partner or donor sperm using in vitro fertilization (IVF).
In general, any healthy woman who currently has at least some healthy eggs and is not yet ready to have a baby is a good candidate for egg freezing.
As an initial step in the egg freezing process, you’ll have a fertility health check to gather information about your fertility and your overall health. Then, in a consultation, one of our consultants will review how effective egg freezing might be for you.
Yes, you will need to stop taking hormonal birth control during the 14 days of your egg freezing cycle, but it can be resumed with the period following your egg retrieval.
Medications used during your egg freezing cycle prompt your ovaries to produce multiple eggs during one menstrual cycle. Hormonal birth control, on the other hand, is intended to prevent ovulation, so it is incompatible with an egg collection and freezing cycle.
There is no evidence that the health or viability of frozen eggs decreases over time. Vitrified eggs can be preserved indefinitely, but the current legal storage limit in the UK is 10 years.
If you have stored your eggs for the maximum period and still wish to use them in the future, your only option is to fertilise the eggs using partner or donor sperm and freeze them as embryos for future use.
The first step is to find out more about your fertility with a fertility health check. Once this is complete, there is no wait for treatment, and you can get started straight away.
Egg collection is a relatively non-invasive procedure that carries minimal risk, but as with any medical procedure there are some potential risks.
There is a small risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Most cases are mild, but rarely the condition is severe and can lead to serious illness. At London Egg Bank we monitor a woman’s fertility treatments very closely with frequent ultrasounds and blood tests to minimise the risk of OHSS.
Risk of OHSS will be identified at the time of initial consultation and a number of risk management strategies will be reflected in your treatment plan. This might include altering the dose of stimulation medications, a different trigger injection and occasionally additional medication after the egg collection procedure.
You set the pace. We’re here for you when you’re ready to start.