Home » Egg freezing, what is it, how much does it cost and who can do it? Questions and answers with the gynecologist Fabrizio Cerusico

Egg freezing, what is it, how much does it cost and who can do it? Questions and answers with the gynecologist Fabrizio Cerusico

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Egg freezing, what is it, how much does it cost and who can do it?  Questions and answers with the gynecologist Fabrizio Cerusico

«I will give my daughter egg freezing as a gift, I believe it is an instrument of freedom.” Speaking is the Italian model Bianca Balti who has brought “social freezing”, a medical practice that allows you to, to the center of the debate “stop” women’s biological clock”freezing your eggs for later use.

Il “egg freezing” it is a procedure known since the 80s, but it was considered experimental until 2012 when it was approved by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) after the publication of numerous data demonstrating its pregnancy rates and safety comparable to others PMA procedures. And in recent years the requests have constantly increased also in Italy, where it is estimated that approximately 6000 women in 2021 have resorted to this practice, with an increase in 20% on the previous year.

But how does this procedure work and when is it recommended? We talked about it with the gynecologist Fabrizio Cerusico, member of the technical table for lifestyles and fertility of the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Cerusico, how does the procedure for freezing eggs work?

The first step is the ovarian reserve test, the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH): with a simple blood test (cost between 60 and 100 euros) the woman can know the state of activity of her ovary. I advise all young women to do it for “prevention”: if risk situations emerge you can consider the idea of ​​freezing your eggs to reserve yourself extra chances of becoming a mother in the future if you want. In my opinion it should be a free test offered by the national health system.

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What are the next steps?

A series of preventive checks are carried out on the woman’s health status, then hormone therapy is administered with subcutaneous injections which lasts from 8 to 12 days and is performed directly at home by the patient. On the last day, a drug for the maturity of the oocytes is carried out and 36 hours later you enter the operating room for the pick-up. The eggs are collected in an operation that lasts about 10 minutes in total.

Is the surgery painful, are there any contraindications?

During the operation there is no pain because it is performed under deep sedation, at most there may be mild soreness in the following days. The greatest risk is ovarian hyperstimulation, but this too is rare and manageable with current therapies. It is a safe procedure, the surgery is outpatient and the patient can return to her normal activities the following day.

When is the right time in a woman’s life to freeze her eggs?

The best time is the peak of fertility, between the ages of 20 and 35. During this period of life it is easier to obtain an adequate quantity of quality eggs, which means a greater chance of achieving a pregnancy in the future.

Does this mean that if you freeze your eggs at 38 it’s already too late?

Certainly the sooner this procedure is done the better. Every woman has a limited quantity of eggs, every year they decrease and there is no possibility of “increasing” the oocyte reserve, beware of those who promise diets or supplements capable of doing this!

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How much does lifestyle affect the quality of eggs?

It depends on genetic factors, but also on lifestyle: if there is a woman at 30 who has smoked for 10 years for 10 years, and has an unhealthy lifestyle, it is very likely that her oocyte reserve is lower than the average of her age. The smokeis a serious risk factor: reduces fertility by approximately 50%.in both men and women. It should also be clarified that taking the contraceptive pill does not prevent the ovary from undergoing the physiological process of aging and therefore reduction of reserve over the years.

What are the chances of getting pregnant if you freeze your eggs?

The moment these eggs are re-implanted even if the woman is already in menopause, the chances of a pregnancy is 30%if the patient has frozen them between 20 and 30 years. Obviously, if you undergo vitrification at the age of 40 and with an already reduced ovarian reserve, the chances of becoming pregnant subsequently do not exceed 10%.

What are the costs of this procedure?

The cost in Italy in a private egg freezing center varies between3000 and 4000 euros. It is paid by the National Health System only for cancer patients who have to undergo therapies that can compromise fertility. There is then a fixed cost to be paid annually to maintain the vitrified eggs and this varies between 200 and 300 euros.

Egg freezing, what is it, how much does it cost and who can do it? Questions and answers with the gynecologist Fabrizio Cerusico

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