The journey of parenthood is a dream that every couple or individual wants to fulfill in their lives. Though, seeing the increasing rates of infertility and other reproductive diseases often intended parents are concerned about the possibility of conceiving a child naturally. Whether you are a single woman or a couple who has already tried multiple fertility treatments, you can consider freezing eggs or embryos after egg extraction and storing them successfully until you are ready to conceive later in life. Now, when you begin researching the options for preserving your fertility, intended parents have a common query in mind i.e. what is the difference between freezing eggs vs freezing embryos?
If freezing eggs or embryos have ever come across your mind, then remember you aren’t the only one. As per the research, it is estimated that out of ⅓ of all fertility treatment procedures that took place in the USA in 2019 were only for patients who considered freezing their gamete materials.
The success rates of freezing eggs and frozen embryos give women and another gender who menstruate more alternatives to plan for conceiving a baby in the future and the liberty to delay expanding their family whenever they are ready.
The process of both methods might seem confusing and overwhelming. Don’t worry, Global Star Surrogacy is here to assist you. This blog outlines the detailed process, perks, and challenges of freezing eggs vs freezing embryos.
Let us walk you through the different factors of preserving gamete material using the process of frozen eggs or embryos for surrogacy or IVF to help you decide the best-suited option for your parenthood journey.
- Freezing eggs vs freezing embryos: difference in the process
- How to prepare freezing eggs vs freezing embryos
- How are eggs collected or retrieved in freezing eggs vs freezing embryos?
- How does the freezing of eggs and embryos take place?
- Freezing embryos transfer procedure
- Why do intended parents choose to freeze embryos?
- Why freezing eggs?
- Pros and cons of frozen eggs
- Benefits and drawbacks of using frozen embryos
- Freezing eggs or frozen embryos: Conclusion
Freezing eggs vs freezing embryos: difference in the process
While you come across that you can preserve your gamete materials i.e, your eggs and your partner’s sperm to conceive a biologically linked child either via surrogacy or IVF deciding either of the alternatives can be very confusing. Although the process of these two methods may look similar there is one major difference.
When you choose to freeze your eggs, they are unfertilized. Through any method when you try to conceive, eggs represent 50% of the genetic material to create a baby whereas, the sperm provides another 50%. If you feel freezing eggs alone is enough to conceive a baby then you are mistaking the process, an egg is not even a cell it is just a part of one gamete material. It can’t function on its own, as it includes only half the number of genetic chromosomes to create a life.
The only benefit of freezing eggs is you can use qualitative eggs even when you surpass your fertility age and whenever you are ready to conceive using IVF or surrogacy.
An embryo is a fertilized egg, when an egg is fertilized by a sperm of the intended father or a sperm donor then it becomes a single cell. Then, after 3 to 4 days, embryos divide into multiple cells from 1 to 2 to 4 to 8 and it carries on further.
Though, you might be wondering how can this help me to decide on a viable alternative. There are two things intended couples or individuals must consider i.e. your situation and the latest medical or fertility research.
For instance, if you are unsure who will be your partner or with whom you will be carrying your baby, then freezing your eggs can be the suitable option for you. As it gives women the freedom to begin thinking about conceiving when they meet the right partner or are ready to select a qualified sperm donor.
Whereas, in a situation like when couples are in a committed relationship or married and when they are sure to have children with their current partner but aren’t in a position to conceive currently then they can prefer freezing their embryos.
Though, quite a few research has compared both the treatments of freezing eggs vs freezing embryos which alternative promises to result in healthy babies. Well, it is difficult to give an exact number of how many people who choose to freeze their eggs and then decide to have a baby via frozen eggs. Since freezing eggs isn’t an experimental procedure anymore hence the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority underlined that egg freezing was majorly gaining attention from 230 frozen egg cycles in 2009 to an estimated 2,400 frozen eggs cycle in 2019.
As per the research and observation, the chances of having a live birth from frozen eggs differ from the age of a woman when she undergoes the process of freezing eggs. Whereas, due to the development of fertility treatments and advanced technologies of in vitro fertilization (IVF), treatments or programs like surrogacy with frozen embryos have increased their success rates by 86% from 2014 to 2019.
How to prepare freezing eggs vs freezing embryos
Before an IVF specialist freeze and stores eggs or embryos, the intended mother needs to stimulate her follicles in the ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible. Follicles are small sacs that contain fluid in your ovaries and women in her fertility age have around 6-12 follicles sacs in their ovaries. In addition, each follicle sac can release one healthy egg during ovulation.
To begin the process of freezing eggs or embryos, your fertility expert will inject you with follicle-stimulating hormones during day 3 of your menstrual and would recommend the procedure of fertility drug for around 8 to 14 days.
Furthermore, a sonographer would regularly monitor your follicle’s size and then your fertility doctor will check your estrogen levels by blood test and an ultrasound. Once a minimum of 3 follicles are big enough around 18 mm, your fertility doctor would ask you to inject yourself with a human chorionic gonadoption (HCG) to stimulate your hormone. This injection triggers your eggs to get mature rapidly and the process of ovulation begins. After 36 hours of consuming this trigger hormone, an IVF expert would collect your eggs through the egg retrieval process.
Remember, depending on an individual’s medical circumstances, the process of preparing frozen eggs and or embryos may vary.
How are eggs collected or retrieved in freezing eggs vs freezing embryos?
By now, you must have learned how eggs are triggered or stimulated, let us understand the process of egg retrieval in detail.
The process of egg retrieval begins using anesthesia with the intended mother, furthermore, the fertility doctor will quickly go through your vaginal ultrasound to check the condition of your follicles. Then, an expert would suction a device that is connected to a thin needle to extract eggs from follicles sacs. Though not all follicle sacs would contain eggs, IVF specialist tries to extract as many eggs as they can.
In the post-egg retrieving process when the intended mother is resting, the fertility doctor will inform you of how many eggs were retrieved. This procedure is catered to freezing eggs, whereas freezing embryos is similar but it may take time as you will have to fertilize eggs with a sperm sample.
If you are considering undergoing a freezing embryos transfer process for future use, then the intended mother will have to fertilize her eggs with the sperm of her partner or a sperm donor. To freeze embryos, the egg retrieval procedure is conducted with the intended mother then the sperm sample is combined in a catheter to form embryos.
The embryos then grow for around 5-7 days under the observation of an embryologist, who keeps intended parents updated with the development of embryos. A few fertility clinics decide to freeze embryos at an early stage around day 3, then embryos are graded for their quality before freezing. Though not all embryos are developed at this stage and that’s completely okay. The process of freezing gamete materials also differs in each fertility clinic.
Whether you are going through the process of freezing eggs or embryos, the intended mother must get periods within 2 weeks from the egg retrieval procedure, and your menstrual cycle becomes normal in the next month so you can be relaxed.
How does the freezing of eggs and embryos take place?
The process for freezing embryos and eggs is the same, in most fertility clinics the freezing of a gamete material is conducted through a flash-freezing method usually termed vitrification. When an egg is vitrified, the process related to biology such as the growth of an egg will be stopped that’s why egg freezing is referred to as freezing time.
To have successful frozen eggs and embryos, it needs to be stored or cooled at the temperature of -196°C or -320°F. Once the eggs are retrieved or fertilized with sperm a fertility expert will put the cells or gamete material into the individual straw attached with a label that includes the intended parent’s name, and further details, and nitrogen liquid is dropped into it that aids in cooling the cells, embryos or eggs rapidly that it freezes.
In addition, special vitrification solutions are used to protect embryos and eggs from crystals when they are kept frozen. Though, vitrification is a new method compared to other fertility methods, before this method was developed fertility clinics were using a relatively slower freezing method. The slower method of freezing would make it hard to protect and separate eggs and embryos from ice crystals.
Freezing embryos transfer procedure
After the procedure of egg retrieval, by the time the sperm sample is collected eggs are kept frozen. After the fertilization procedure, embryos are observed deeply and given some time so that they get develop completely.
Usually, embryos are frozen after the 3 days of fertilizing with sperm when they split into 6-7 cells. In some fertility clinics, embryos are frozen after 5-7 days of fertilizing with sperm when embryos have reached the stage of blastocyte i.e. 50-200 cells. Though which is ideal for the freezing embryos transfer procedure?
When freezing embryos transfer occurs in the surrogate’s womb, the process of surrogacy with frozen embryos is more successful with embryos that were frozen on day 5 compared to embryos frozen on day 3. Though the procedure of freezing embryos varies from each individual and the fertility clinic.
Few fertility clinics and experts believe that freezing qualitative embryos at day 3 is viable because the good place for embryo development is in the uterus and they fear that they may not be able to develop embryos efficiently. While other clinics work with a different approach.
Why do intended parents choose to freeze embryos?
Often intended parents consider freezing their embryos after multiple failed attempts with fertility treatments like Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Though, there are other reasons as well that influence intended parents to choose this path.
Few intended parents already fertilize their eggs with the partner’s sperm and undergo the process of IVF, after the failed attempt they may choose to freeze embryos for the following reasons:
- Intended parents wish to postpone or delay the implantation when they have an option for preserving fertilized embryos.
- They want to use their gamete material at a younger age so that they can conceive later when they are ready using procedures like surrogacy with frozen embryos.
- Uses as backup, in case all fertility treatments fail to aid in successful conceiving results.
- Embryo freezing may also occur when one of the partners has reproductive disease or disease which affects their fertility that can influence them to preserve their fertility at an early age.
Intended parents must choose to freeze their embryos only when they are sure they want to conceive with the current partner or else it can create confusion and complication in a situation like a divorce or the death of one of the partners.
Why freezing eggs?
This is the question of many women who are exploring different ways to secure their conceiving options for positive conception results in the future. Well, why freezing eggs is common in women in recent years? The reasons could be many, let us walk you through multiple common reasons that affect women’s decision to freeze their eggs worldwide.
To have fertility freedom
Many women have a fear of facing fertility problems later in their lives, while they aren’t in the space to expand their family they would like to preserve their fertility. When a single woman freezes her egg, she gets the freedom of fertility even if she hasn’t found a perfect partner right now but later on when she finds the one she can rely on those frozen eggs.
It’s quite difficult to manage parenthood and build a successful career together
Usually, the fertility age is around 18-35, and those are the years when any woman would want to focus on securing and building a successful career. Now, many would manage with the support of their partner and family while others would find it overwhelming and extremely difficult to manage both aspects together at a younger age.
In a situation like this, freezing eggs gives her the freedom to focus on her dreams and delay conceiving with a viable option that has high success rates.
Apart from personal circumstances, many women would choose to freeze their eggs due to medical reasons like diseases that may affect their fertility. Cancer treatment like chemotherapy and other reproductive diseases like endometriosis, or other hormonal issues like PCOS can prevent you from conceiving naturally.
Before you undergo treatments that cause your fertility, you can consider retrieving and freezing your eggs for future use either with IVF. Or you can prefer to undergo a surrogacy process if carrying a baby is not possible for you, that way you will have the assurance of conceiving a biologically linked child.
Women who are in a same-sex relationship
Conceiving naturally is nearly impossible for women who are lesbians or in a same-sex relationship. While you can consider fertility treatments like IVF or even surrogacy. Though fertility issues do not stop with LGBT couples, hence you can consider freezing your eggs for future use whenever you are emotionally or financially ready to expand your family.
Pros and cons of frozen embryos
Frozen embryo transfer allows genetic testing through the Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) process that aids in examing the chromosomal materials of embryos to determine normal and abnormal chromosomes within all the embryos. This process helps intended parents select only normal and healthy embryos only for surrogacy with frozen embryos.
It Saves time for surrogacy
Intended parents who undergo surrogacy, need to go through an entire medical procedure using the IVF method to create embryos. When you already have frozen embryos you can directly work with a surrogate and your fertility doctor can make her body prepared for the embryo transfer procedure. This can reduce your entire surrogacy timeline.
More chances of successful conception
Frozen embryo transfer offers more opportunities to conceive, even if a single frozen embryo doesn’t give a successful conception you don’t have to repeat the entire process, unlike fresh embryo transfer. You can directly choose other available frozen embryos.
Freezing and thawing embryos are expensive
Frozen embryo transfer requires constant vitrification and thawing. The vitrification process is used for freezing and storing embryos and thawing to warm the cells when you wish to conceive. Now, storing frozen embryos will cost more depending on where you live and how long you wish to preserve your embryos.
Perks and challenges of freezing eggs
The perks of freezing eggs are many, we are listing a few common perks that women may enjoy with frozen eggs or an answer for why freezing eggs.
- It helps women to delay conceiving with an effective process
- It relaxes woman as she freezes their eggs, hence there won’t be rushing to find a partner. She can take her time and conceive whenever she finds the one.
- It is one of the reliable options to preserve your fertility especially when you have hormonal or reproductive or other diseases which can affect your fertility.
- Gives the option to conceive a genetically linked child in the future even if she wants to be a single mother with qualitative eggs.
Challenges with freezing eggs
- Some women may face side effects with the fertility drugs used for the freezing eggs procedure. Side effects may include – bloating, blood clots, or dehydration.
- Egg freezing can be expensive, as you have to pay for storing frozen eggs by the time you choose to conceive with them.
- Freezing eggs doesn’t give you a 100% guarantee of a successful pregnancy, as not all eggs are viable for fertility use. And other eggs that are in good condition don’t assure to fertilize with your partner at times.
Freezing eggs or frozen embryos: Conclusion
Whether to choose freezing eggs vs freezing embryos for family planning can be quite confusing. And when you learn about the tedious process and cost of the options, you may feel overwhelmed, confused, and uncertain about the process and that’s okay.
Don’t simply scan the internet, it will make you even more confused. Consult a fertility doctor or a surrogacy agency to understand the process and determine the success rates for the procedure. Remember, both the alternatives have their benefits and disadvantages you have to learn which method suits you best depending on your situation, preferences, and medical condition.
To know more about surrogacy using frozen embryos or egg donation visit our website or book our free consultation call.