As Sue says, “There were so many more steps” and each one comes with a price tag: transferring the eggs out of storage, thawing them, fertilizing them, monitoring your cycle, transferring the embryo(s) into the uterus, more monitoring. Stephanie had a bill of $41,600 for her three egg freezing cycles and five years of storage. When she and her husband decided to thaw the eggs and do IVF, one embryo transfer cycle was an additional $11,199.
Truth #5: Egg freezing can come with side effects, some more fleeting than others.
Bloating, nausea, headaches, and constipation are all common during the approximately two-week process of hormonal stimulation and usually subside within days following the retrieval procedure. But two of the women we spoke with experienced ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). “Right after the egg retrieval procedure, I couldn’t eat or drink for over eight days without throwing up bile,” says Amanda, who froze her eggs at 34, and had an extreme case of OHSS. “Each day, my boyfriend and two friends would take turns driving me to the doctor’s office across town where I would lie in the dark for eight hours hooked up to an IV to get some nutrients while still throwing up.”
The risk of developing severe OHSS during an egg retrieval cycle is about 1%, says Paula Amato, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University and the president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. These cases are usually characterized by abdominal swelling, severe pain, and persistent nausea. A case as extreme as Amanda’s is “exceedingly rare,” says Lucky Sekhon, MD, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York. Still, “if I had known what happened to me was possible, I wouldn’t have done it,” says Amanda.
Another woman we interviewed, 36-year-old Rachael, gained 60 pounds following her egg retrieval procedure and developed Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. After taking thyroid medication, she’s now on Wegovy to bring her weight back down. “Even so, I 100% think this was worth it,” she says. ”I now have a backup plan for my future and am incredibly grateful for that.” (We spoke to two doctors about Rachael’s experience and both said that while some weight gain can be part of the egg freezing process, it is usually temporary and this experience is highly unusual. And “ovarian stimulation has never been shown to provoke autoimmune disease,” says Dr. Sekhon.)