Egg freezing and IVF are reproductive technologies that involve manipulating eggs outside of the body. While they have distinct purposes and procedures, there are some similarities between the two processes. Start by booking a consultation at a fertility clinic.
The process and timelines for egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can vary depending on individual circumstances, clinic protocols, and treatment plans. Here's a general overview of each process and their associated timelines:
Egg Freezing (Oocyte Cryopreservation):
- Ovarian Stimulation: Similar to the IVF process, you will undergo ovarian stimulation by taking fertility medications (injectable hormones) to stimulate the ovaries and produce multiple mature eggs. This usually takes around 8 to 14 days, with regular monitoring through ultrasound scans and blood tests to track follicle development and hormone levels.
- Egg Retrieval: Once the eggs have matured, a minor surgical procedure called egg retrieval or follicular aspiration is performed. It is typically done under sedation or anesthesia. A thin needle is inserted through the vaginal wall into each ovary, and the fluid containing the eggs is aspirated. The procedure usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
- Laboratory Processing and Freezing: The retrieved eggs are taken to the laboratory, evaluated, processed, and then frozen using a rapid freezing technique called vitrification. The eggs are stored in a cryogenic storage facility (typically in liquid nitrogen) until you're ready to use them.
The entire egg freezing process, from the start of ovarian stimulation to the completion of egg retrieval and freezing, typically takes several weeks.
IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization):
- Ovarian Stimulation: Similar to the egg freezing process, you will undergo ovarian stimulation by taking fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries and promote the development of multiple mature eggs. This usually takes around 8 to 14 days, with regular monitoring through ultrasound scans and blood tests.
- Egg Retrieval: Once the eggs have matured, the egg retrieval procedure is performed. It is a minor surgical procedure done under sedation or anesthesia. A thin needle is inserted through the vaginal wall into each ovary to retrieve the mature eggs. The procedure usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
- Fertilization: After the eggs are retrieved, they are combined with sperm in the laboratory to facilitate fertilization. This can be done through traditional IVF, where the eggs and sperm are placed together in a culture dish, or through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected directly into each mature egg.
- Embryo Culture: The fertilized eggs, now called embryos, are cultured in the laboratory for a few days to allow them to develop further.
- Embryo Transfer: In the final stage, one or more embryos are transferred into the uterus through a thin catheter. The transfer is typically performed without anesthesia and doesn't require hospitalization. The number of embryos transferred depends on various factors, including age, embryo quality, and the patient's preferences.
The timelines for IVF can vary, but generally, the entire process from the start of ovarian stimulation to embryo transfer takes around 4 to 6 weeks. Following the embryo transfer, you may need to wait for about 10-14 days for a pregnancy test to determine if the IVF cycle was successful.
It's important to note that these timelines are general guidelines, and individual circumstances may lead to variations in the process and timelines. Consulting with a fertility specialist will provide you with a more accurate timeline and tailored information based on your specific situation.
Start by booking a consultation at a fertility clinic. And book your free first call with our fertility advisors if you have any questions.