Should we be prepping our bodies for Egg Freezing?

Dr. Kalea Wattles

Should we be prepping our bodies for Egg Freezing?


Egg freezing, or “oocyte cryopreservation,” is a reproductive technology that allows egg cells to be preserved and stored for later use. There are both personal and medical reasons that a woman may choose to freeze her eggs. The most common reason cited for elective egg freezing is the lack of a suitable partner. Other personal reasons include career aspirations, financial reasons, or changing relationship status. Medical motivations for egg freezing might consist of fertility preservation before cancer treatment or other treatment that requires medication that is toxic to the ovaries, necessary ovarian surgery, or the diagnosis of a condition that can reduce ovarian reserve (endometriosis, for example). 

Women may choose to utilize elective egg freezing to preserve their egg cells at their current age, knowing that “younger” egg cells likely offer more successful pregnancy outcomes. Egg freezing has been described as a method by which women can be egg donors for their future selves! This may make it possible for women to have biological children at an age where natural conception would otherwise be more challenging and the risk for chromosomal abnormalities is greater. 

What Is Egg Freezing? 

Egg freezing, is a process by which egg cells are extracted from the ovary, frozen, and stored for use in the future. This technology allows women to preserve their fertility and build their families at a time that suits them best. 

The Egg Freezing Process

The process of egg freezing begins similarly to in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Medication is given to stimulate the ovaries, encouraging the growth of multiple egg cells. Once the eggs reach maturity, they are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure. Following retrieval, the most effective way to preserve the egg cells is through “vitrification,” which involves a rapid cooling process using liquid nitrogen. This method prevents the formation of ice crystals that can damage the egg cell integrity. The eggs are then stored in liquid nitrogen at very cold temperatures, halting the metabolic activity of the egg cells so they are functionally preserved in their current state indefinitely. 

How often is it successful?

When it comes time to use frozen eggs, they are carefully warmed and rehydrated. The survival rate from the freezing-thawing process is typically 80-90%. The thawed egg cells can then be fertilized in a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which involves the insertion of sperm into the egg cell to bypass the outside layer of the egg which may harden during cryopreservation. Because the freezing-thawing process is so effective, this is considered a viable option for those hoping to preserve fertility or be proactive against any fertility concerns that may arise in the future. 

Is there an optimal age to freeze our eggs? 

The most impactful factor contributing to the success of egg freezing is the age of the egg cell at the time of the procedure. Most large studies agree that the best results are achieved when egg cells are preserved before the age of 36. This timing accounts for an age-related decline in egg quality and quantity. For example, a woman who desires pregnancy in her 40s will have a success rate of roughly 6.6% when using her own eggs. If she used egg cells that had been frozen when she was 30 years old, that number would increase to over 40% success per embryo transfer. 

Are there things that we can do to support our fertility and egg health?

Preparing for egg freezing is similar to preparing for an IVF cycle, intending to increase the health of the egg cell. Nutrition, supplemental, and lifestyle factors can help to bolster antioxidant defenses, reduce oxidative stress, modulate inflammation, and increase egg health. 

Some of the most evidence-based interventions for supporting egg health include: 

  1. Nutrition: A food plan rich in plant proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, and antioxidants (carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids, and polyphenols) may benefit egg health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. 

  1. Melatonin: Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and mitochondrial support. In human studies, supplementation with melatonin for at least 2 weeks before egg retrieval has been associated with increased fertilization rates, increased embryo quality, and increased rates of pregnancy and live birth. 

  1. CoQ10: Supplementation with CoQ10, especially in the 60 days before egg retrieval, has been shown to decrease oxidative stress in the fluid around the egg cells, increase the number of egg cells retrieved, increase fertilization rates, and increase embryo quality. 

The Bottom Line

Egg freezing is a powerful tool that allows women to play an active role in their reproductive future. This process offers the flexibility to pursue personal goals or medical treatment without compromising the ability to have biological children when the time is right. Preparing for egg freezing through adequate nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle can lead to the preservation of the healthiest eggs possible.  

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Dr. Kalea Wattles, ND, IFMCP

Dr. Kalea Wattles is a naturopathic doctor, certified functional medicine practitioner, and founder of Functional Fertility. As an educator, podcaster, speaker, and clinician, Dr. Wattles combines cutting edge science with treasured traditional wisdom, applying a systems biology approach to discover the root cause of fertility struggles. With a deep commitment to advancing the field of functional medicine and improving patient outcomes, her patient-centered approach helps individuals cultivate abundant health for pregnancy and beyond.