More women in Canada are choosing to freeze their eggs. The proverbial biological clock is a reality check that hits many woman as they grow older, especially if they want to have kids. Some women on the other hand are unable to conceive without help and often need their eggs frozen to aid conception.
As women age, the chances of chromosomal abnormalities increase, alongside the risk of miscarriages, and other birth defects that makes conceiving more difficult. Hence, many women have several reasons for opting to freeze their eggs, but mostly for medical reasons.
Egg Freezing in Canada
Also known as mature oocyte cryopreservation, egg freezing is a system used to preserve women’s ability to conceive in the future. The process involves harvesting eggs from the ovaries, they are then frozen unfertilized and stored for future use.
A single egg-freezing cycle takes about 4 – 6 weeks, and you will be very fertile in the days leading up to and after the egg retrieval procedure. Hence, it is advisable to abstain from sex during an egg freezing cycle.
Many women go for the egg freezing option due to the following reasons:
- Women with Cancer going for chemotherapy or pelvic radiation therapy that may affect fertility afterwards.
- High-risk surgeries that may affect the ovaries
- Ovarian disease
- Fertility preservation for personal reasons
- Family history of fertility problem/early menopause
- The biological clock is already ticking
- Genetic mutations like BRCA
Due to the above-mentioned reasons, the number of Canadian women now opting to freeze their eggs in Canada has increased massively. After freezing your egg, whenever you are ready to use them, the eggs will be thawed. They will be placed in a warming solution and evaluated for quality.
Afterwards, the best eggs are then fertilized using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICIS), where a single sperm is injected directly into the egg to form an embryo. These embryos will be groomed for 3-5 days till they are ready to be transferred into the uterus to form a pregnancy.
Before embarking on this journey, it is important to know your chances of conceiving with frozen egg at your age and other questions you might need answers. So, consultation with a doctor is very important before anything.
Cost of Freezing Your Eggs in Canada
The cost of freezing your Eggs in Canada does not come cheap, the total cost you’ll be spending largely depends on:
- The fertility clinic you want to use
- How many cycles you need
- The storage duration
- How much it’ll cost to defrost and fertilize your eggs when you are ready
The average cost of freezing your eggs in Canada depends on the fertility clinic, but generally, it is in the range of CA$6,000 – 10,000 to retrieve and freeze the eggs, CA$300 – 500 to store them yearly and CA$ 6,000 to cover the cost per IVF cycle. Most fertility centres recommend you use your eggs within 10 years of the egg freezing procedure.
This fee covers the initial tests, injections, and the retrieval surgery. Note that the annual storage fee for freezing your eggs in Canada is calculated individually, hence it is not part of this fee.
The average age at which you can freeze your egg is within the age of 20s – 30s when you are at the peak of your reproductive capability. It is within these age range that the best quantity and quality of eggs can be retrieved from you. Although some people in their 40s still freeze their ages for best result it is advisable with the earlier stated ages.
Egg Freezing Procedure in Canada
Before opting for the egg freezing option, ensure you are financially, physically, and emotionally prepared you need all the support you can get. Many Canadian fertility clinics usually require women opting to freeze their eggs to partake in an initial counselling session, this is to prepare them for the journey they are about to embark on.
There are five steps involved in freezing your eggs in Canada. They are:
- Ovarian Reserve Estimation
This is the first assessment carried out by your doctor to evaluate the potential yield of eggs in your ovary. Ovarian reserve testing tells when a woman is close to menopause, egg count and egg quality. This evaluation involves some blood tests and a pelvic ultrasound. You will also be scanned for any infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C.
- Ovarian Stimulation
This is a fertility drug to stimulate your hormones. It comes in both oral and injectable form. It is a 15-day medication to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple feasible eggs, and it cost between CA$3,000 – 6,000. Getting multiple eggs to help you pick the best and most healthy egg to freeze.
- Egg Retrieval
This oftentimes carried out under sedation. Your eggs will be carefully enunciated vaginally using an ultrasound probe to locate the mature follicles. Then, using a needle via the vaginal Canal to the ovaries, suction will be applied to extract the eggs one-after-the-other.
This procedure cost between CA$6,000 – 8,000 per cycle. Women younger than 35 might need to pay for one or two cycles, which cost around CA$9,000 – CA$28,000. While for those older than 35, they might require two-three cycles costing between CA$24,000 and CA$42,000.
After retrieving the eggs, their maturity will be checked under a microscope, and those that are mature will be cryopreserved.
It is an ultra-rapid process that is achieved by first, exposing the eggs to cryoprotectants causing dehydration. Then, the dehydrated eggs will be placed into tiny storage straws that will adapt to the ultra-rapid cooling method. The straws are then cooled by dropping the temperature thousands of degrees per minute. This procedure is achieved within 10 minutes, after which the eggs can be fixed in the same state for use any time in the future.
Naturally, you can resume normal activities within a week of egg retrieval. Bear in mind that everyone’s body is different. During your recovery process, you might likely experience cramping and pain due to the retrieval procedure.
Also, you might go through a wave of a mood swing, this is due to the hormonal drug and with time t will subdue. It is advisable to avoid unprotected sex to prevent an unplanned pregnancy as some eggs might still be hanging around.
Contact your health care provider if you have:
- Difficulty urinating
- A fever higher than 101.5 F (38.6)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Weight gain of more than 2 pounds in 24 hours
Although the risk involved in egg-freezing is minimal, there are some rare cases of complications like
- Heavy bleeding
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
- Egg retrieval complications
- Emotion stress
- Miscarriage in older women
- Health conditions related to the use of fertility drugs
Financing Freezing your Eggs in Canada
When it comes to financing freezing your eggs in Canada, you don’t need to break the bank. Currently, there is no provincial health plans have been provided by the government to cover the cost of freezing your eggs in Canada. You can use:
- Personal loans
- Line of credit
- Fertility grants
- Fertility centre financing
- Credit cards
While considering freezing your eggs, you can follow these short tips to prepare yourself:
- Get Tested
To ensure you are fit to undergo the procedure, ensure you are healthy by getting tested. Rule out ovarian cysts, endometriosis and other health challenges before booking a procedure.
- Fertility Check
Don’t just assume because your biological clock is ticking you must freeze your egg. There is no one-way rule to these things, get checked first before making a major move.
- Improve Your Lifestyle
You need to be healthy and strong to undergo the procedure. To ensure you are healthy, you must eat right, exercise enough and abstain from drinking and smoking. It is advisable to book your egg retrieval months in advance to give you ample time to get in shape.
Take a breather and just take things gently. Do not stress yourself over anything as stress could affect your hormone level. And once your hormone level is affected, it will make it more difficult for your eggs to mature.