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Egg Freezing Fertilized Embryos

The infographic below sums up the stages in a typical Egg Freezing which involves IVF and then Freezing of the Eggs.   Then we go into more detail on each stage.   Important to note that the process may vary slightly between individuals depending on the recommendations of your Fertility Specialist but gives a good overall idea of what to expect.

The Process of Egg Freezing

Stage 1 - Initial Consult and Tests with Fertility Specialist

Before starting Egg Freezing you will need an initial consult with a Fertility Doctor which will confirm if IVF is a viable Fertility treatment option for you. It will involve various checks including blood tests and an ultrasound of your reproductive system as well as an analysis of your partners or donors sperm.

Stage 2 - Stimulation of Ovaries with Hormonal Injections

The Egg Freezing process typically begins with the stimulation of the ovaries. The goal is to produce multiple eggs for retrieval, as not all eggs will fertilize successfully. Hormonal medications, often in the form of daily injections, are administered to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles, each containing an egg. Monitoring of hormone levels and ultrasound scans are performed regularly to track follicle growth. When the follicles are shown to have grown to a specific size commonly between 17 to 19mm then a drug is required to encourage the follicles to release the eggs. You will then be scheduled to have your egg retrieval within a 24-36 hour window after administering the drug before ovulation.

Stage 3 - Egg Retrieval

Once you arrive for your egg retrieval you will be asked to change into sterile theatre garments and in the egg retrieval room you will be put into a sedative state to help relax you and make sure do not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure. An Ultrasound device is placed into your vagina to find the follicles then a thin needle is is inserted into the Ultrasound guide to go through the vagina and into the follicles and suction will be applied to collect the eggs. After the procedure you will be taken to a recovery room until the sedation wears off which typically takes approximately an hour.

Stage 4 - Sperm Sample Prepared

Around the same time as you are having your eggs retrieved then a sperm sample is collected from the male partner or sperm donor. The sperm is then washed and processed to improve its viability in the lab and prepared for fertilization.

Stage 5 - Sperm Introduced to Eggs

The eggs retrieved and sperm are combined in a dish in a laboratory and they are incubated in controlled environment and temperature and monitored over the next few days. In some cases if chosen the ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) may be used where a single sperm is directly injected into the egg to help facilitate fertilization. If the fertilization is successful it will result in the formation of an embryo and then the next stage will be to monitor the development of the embryo. If an ideal outcome there will be a number of embyros that fertilized to monitor but in some cases there may be just one or none that managed to fertilize.

Stage 6 - Egg Development To Embryos

The resulting eggs are cultured in a special incubator, and their development is monitored closely by embryologists. Typically, they are allowed to grow for 3 to 6 days where they will undergo multiple cell divisions becoming embryos. You may be recommended depending on the outcomes to freeze the eggs at 3 days, 5 or 6 days. And they will stay frozen until you are ready at a later date to transfer.

Stage 7 - Embryo Transfer When Ready

When you decide to transfer you will need to start medications on the 1st or 2nd day of your menstruation which will help build up your uterine lining to a certain thickness (monitored by regular ultrasounds). The chosen frozen embryo or embryos will be thawed and guided by a catheter into the right place.

You will be asked to lie down on a bed which will position your legs apart to enable easier access by your Health Provider. A Speculum will be inserted into the vagina making it stay in a widened position to allow the cervix to be more accessible. Ultrasound will be used to help show your uterus clearly so that the embryo can be guided carefully into the right place. The embryo will then be inserted into the end of the catheter and the catheter guided gently through to release the embryo in the right place.

Stage 8 - Embryo Implantation & Pregnancy Testing

Over the next few days it will be about hopefully the embryo implanting into your uterine lining. In most cases you will be given supporting medications through either injection, tablet form or vaginal suppository form which will help support the embryo implant into your uterus lining helping to increase the chances of successful pregnancy. A pregnancy test then can be carried out about 10-14 days according to your Health providers recommendations and if the embryo has successfully implanted into your uterus lining.

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