We hear this concern frequently from our Ovally customers – and given the cost of each egg freezing or IVF cycle, it’s certainly warranted. While we recommend you talk to your doctor about this question, we wanted to share some data points on the topic that you can use going into your conversations:
Before your treatment:
You typically have to complete a fertility assessment prior to any treatment, whether it be egg freezing or IVF. As part of that fertility assessment, a doctor evaluates your fertility hormone levels and your “antral follicle count”, i.e., the number of follicles you currently have maturing on your ovaries. These tests provide you with some information: The antral follicle count tends to be correlated with how well you will respond to hormonal stimulation as part of egg freezing or IVF. It also provides you with more information on your ovarian reserve, i.e., how many eggs you have left. Fertility hormones such as the Anti-Muellerian Hormone (AMH) have also been found to correlate with your ovarian response to treatment. Testing AMH and antral follicle count thus give you some more information to make a decision about the number of cycles you might undergo for egg freezing or IVF. That said, they’re not perfect predictors, as neither test is an indicator of the quality of your eggs, which decreases with age.
During your treatment:
While you’re undergoing hormonal stimulation to grow more eggs as part of egg freezing or IVF, your doctor will constantly be monitoring your progress. For instance, if you’re not as responsive to the hormonal injections, your doctor might increase your dosage. In some cases where patients grow few follicles and don’t respond much more to higher hormone stimulation, endocrinologists perform several stimulation cycles with low hormone dosages, which also tend to be significantly less expensive.
Going through one cycle will also give you a sense of how you feel during the procedure. Some women have no side effects and choose to do another cycle right after the first if they didn’t retrieve the number of eggs they were hoping for or want to collect a higher number for multiple potential children. Others wait several months or years until another cycle; there is no obligatory waiting period.
Both before and during your treatment, you and your doctor will learn more and more about the state of your fertility and your responsiveness to follicle-simulating hormones. You can expect your doctor to design a stimulation protocol based on your particular circumstances. And while it is highly likely that you’ll need more than one egg freezing or IVF cycle the older you are, you’ll be able to make that decision together with your doctor as part of your fertility assessment and don’t need to have made a firm decision prior to your first appointment.