Does Egg Freezing Affect Natural Fertility?
Posted on February 21st, 2023
Egg freezing is a great option for those who are reaching the stage of their life where they may want to start a family in the future, but are not quite ready yet. Those who freeze their eggs have more freedom over when and how they choose to start a family, whether through traditional conception or with the help of fertility treatments.
As popular as this process has become, many still have questions about whether or not they will be able to conceive naturally if they freeze their eggs. The short answer is that egg freezing in and of itself does not pose an inherent risk to natural fertility.
Understanding Fertility and Egg Freezing
Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, and that number declines every year. At birth, they have an egg count of between 1 and 2 million – by puberty, their count will drop to around 300,000.
During an average ovulation cycle, your brain releases hormones that activate multiple egg follicles. However, although several follicles are activated, only one egg will develop into maturity. This egg will be released from the ovaries and travel through the fallopian tubes into the uterus. Meanwhile, the eggs that never matured disintegrate and are reabsorbed into your body. Only about 0.001% of your eggs are ovulated during reproductive years.
Egg freezing works by using medications to stimulate the maturation of multiple eggs instead of just one. This makes it possible to retrieve eggs that would have otherwise been lost. Using these medications and undergoing the egg retrieval procedure does not impact the number of eggs that you would have ovulated and does not pose a risk to the ovarian reserve.
Egg Freezing Side Effects
Freezing your eggs does not hurt your fertility, but there can be side effects. The risks you need to be most mindful of are laid out by your fertility specialist before treatment starts. All medications and treatments, from birth control to hormone injections, can cause side effects such as:
- Weight gain
- Headaches and flu-like symptoms
- Changes in sleep
- Mood swings
Something to keep an eye out for is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), a condition that occurs in approximately 5.19% of ovarian stimulation treatment cycles. OHSS causes your ovaries to swell and leak fluid into other areas of your body, which can be dangerous. Your doctor should be checking for this throughout each phase of the freezing process, including after egg retrieval. Please contact your doctor immediately if you notice the following symptoms:
- Severe pain and cramping in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid weight gain
For most women, there are usually no significant risks of long-term effects with egg freezing, but everyone is impacted differently. Be sure to go over all possible risks and alternatives with your provider, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re ready to start your egg freezing journey, or if you would like more information, contact Aspire Fertility today.