There's a way to make freezing your eggs WAY more affordable
Question your facility and doctors about statistics and how successful their rates have been before you decide if this cryocenter is the one for you.
She had suffered two miscarriages from ectopic pregnancies during that decade of trying, and she and her husband wanted help.
IVF is a process where a woman's eggs are extracted before being mixed with a sperm sample in a petri dish, according to the American Pregnancy Association. After an embryo is created, it is then transferred into the woman's uterus. Oftentimes, doctors will extract multiple eggs that can be made into multiple embryos, and those that are not used are frozen so they can be thawed out for future attempts.
Unfortunately, egg freezing and IVF are luxuries that, until quite recently, were out of many women’s price ranges, including Anna’s. If you want to freeze your eggs, the costs range from $7,000 to $8,000 for a single cycle to a high of about $18,000 for a program of multiple cycles, says Eric Widra, M.D., of Shady Grove Fertility, the largest group of fertility clinics in the U.S.
However, now there is a new way for Anna and women like her to access egg retrieval and freezing services at a discounted price.
The process, sometimes called “egg sharing” and sometimes called a “split donor cycle,” depending on the clinic and who is doing the procedure, works like this: A woman who would like to retrieve her eggs for IVF or freeze them can donate half to another woman who needs them, keeping the other half for herself.
Since clinics and egg cryobanks often pay egg donors approximately the same price that they charge women to retrieve eggs and freeze them, many are beginning to offer women the option of paying for the services by donating half of the eggs retrieved to another woman in need.
“We’ve seen over the past few years—since egg freezing stopped being classified as experimental by the FDA—the floodgates opening and more and more women wanting to freeze their eggs," says practice manager Sarah Vermillion, of Santa Monica Fertility.
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Anna was able to retrieve 10 eggs, and she paid for it through egg sharing. She donated five of them to another woman, and got pregnant with IVF with one of the other five she kept for herself.
Anna said that although she donated her eggs because of financial reasons, the process was so positive that she was happy to have done it.
“You start to realize that you’re really giving something quite special to this other person," Anna says. "Now that this process worked for me, and I have my second child, I don’t think you can give anyone a better gift than giving them the chance to have their own baby. It just makes you feel really good.”
Sarah Vermillion, practice manager, and Julie Webb, patient coordinator of Santa Monica Fertility, broke down for us what you should know in advance.
CALL FIRST TO LEARN YOUR OPTIONS
Any reputable clinic or cryobank will offer a free consultation. Many also offer services to determine whether egg freezing will make sense for you.
KEEP IN MIND THAT EGG FREEZING IS NOT A SURE BET
On average, the success rate for live births from frozen eggs is only 20 to 30 percent, according to Vermillion. “Women are often really surprised, when we start counseling them about frozen eggs, just how low the national live birth rate really is,” says Webb.
ASK YOUR CLINIC FOR ITS SUCCESS RATES
The most important part of the process is what happens when you're ready to use your eggs, says Webb. "So, you really want to make sure that when you are going to freeze your eggs, that clinic has the capacity and the ability to thaw that egg and ultimately result in a live birth," says Vermillion. Many sperm banks and cryobanks have egg-freezing capabilities, but not the reputable doctors to thaw them or treat patients at the same facility, she says.
“With all of the advancements in egg freezing and then with donations for free egg freezing, it’s exciting and everyone is jumping into it, but we really have to be careful to make sure that people are cycling with the right clinic. You want your frozen eggs to stay where they were frozen and to be thawed by the same clinic, and you don’t want them to be shipped, because they are very sensitive to changes in temperature that can happen during shipping,” Webb says.
The question to ask yourself when choosing where to freeze your eggs is: “If I do end up wanting to use these frozen eggs years down the line, are they going to work?” Vermillion says. Question your facility and doctors about statistics and how successful their rates have been before you decide if this cryocenter is the one for you.
REMEMBER THAT YOU WILL NEED TO PAY TO KEEP YOUR EGGS FROZEN
The average price for keeping your eggs frozen is usually between $500 and $600 per year, according to all of the sources we spoke with for this article.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Laws vary by state, but, it’s wise whether you’re donating through an agency or a clinic to have legal representation with an attorney specializing in this field, which a reputable agency or clinic can set you up with, and which is usually paid for by the recipient of the eggs (whether clinic, agency, or private individual).
It benefits both the donor and the recipient to have that attorney present to draft a legal document to protect both parties from worst-case scenarios, says Webb. Most laws around egg donation exist to protect donors who want to remain anonymous, and if you want to remain anonymous you can have your contract drawn up to ensure that.
However, in many cases people on both sides do not want to remain anonymous, and that can be worked out as well as long as it is acceptable to both parties. Beware of any clinic or agency that asks you to donate without representation, Webb stresses.
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