Quick Guide – Egg Freezing Abroad
Questions about egg freezing and its availability are becoming ever more popular with patients looking for answers from IVF clinics abroad. The procedure is one which is offered by a great number of IVF clinics alongside the full range of treatments you would expect to see in your home country.
Over recent years there has been a steady increase in both interest in egg freezing or preservation and its availability. It was traditionally offered to women who wanted to preserve their fertility prior to commencing cancer treatment. More recently though, it is being used by women who want to have a chance at preserving their fertility for non medical reasons. These reasons including delaying planning for a family because of career or lifestyle choices.
Alongside the increasing demand for egg freezing many employers have begun to offer employee benefits which provide financial and practical assistance for anyone considering the procedure. These include international brands like Apple and Amazon which has ensured additional publicity and awareness for the procedure.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has allowed the use of frozen eggs for infertility treatment in the UK since 2000 and allowed storage for up to 10 years after which people must choose whether to undergo fertility treatment or have their frozen eggs destroyed. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 the UK Government took the decision to extend the 10 year limit by 2 years to counteract any negative impact caused by the pause in treatment which was necessary due to the virus.
In 2013, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lifted the experimental label applied to egg freezing which encouraged more IVF clinics to offer the service which has become available across the country.
Egg freezing works best for younger women as their eggs are ordinarily more fresh and viable and on freezing this quality is locked in. As you age, so do your eggs and therefore their quality deteriorates. This can sometimes lead to irregularities in the eggs which can reduce the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
The length of time the eggs spend frozen has no bearing on the outcome of the future treatment. What does have a bearing is the age at which you freeze your eggs. It is recommended that up to 20 eggs are frozen so that there is more chance of a successful thawing and fertilisation should the need arise in the future.
The HFEA has good information about egg freezing on its website and is worth a read if you are considering going abroad for egg freezing treatment.
Which countries in Europe allow egg freezing?
The vast majority of countries in Europe allow egg freezing for both medical reasons and fertility preservation. In this website you will find that most clinics offer egg freezing and usually at a very low cost compared to the UK and USA.
Which are the most popular destination in Europe for egg freezing?
According to the latest figures produced by ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) the European countries which perform the most assisted reproduction cycles are Spain, Czech Republic, Greece and Russia.
These countries also represent the most popular destinations for women seeking to freeze their eggs with the Czech Republic and Spain leading the way followed by Greece. You will discover a number of options to freeze your eggs in this website with clinics in these popular countries who have extensive experience and success with vitrification.
What is the average cost of egg freezing abroad?
The cost varies from country to country as you would expect. At one end of the spectrum there is the United States where the cost of egg freezing is roughly between 9,000 and 15,000 dollars just for official visits, extraction surgery, and freezing. The cost does not include medications and storage nor does it include the cost of thawing and fertilization.
In Europe on the other hand prices are very much lower. For example in the Czech Republic and Greec you are able to freeze your eggs for around 1,500 euros which includes one year of storage but excludes medication. In Spain a similar service is offered at a cost of around 2,300 euros.
This is good value if you compare it to what some IVF clinics in the UK charge which is between £2500- £5000 excluding medication.
It must be noted that whilst the medication costs are likely to be lower abroad, they can still be a significant cost (1,000 euros plus) and remember you do need to factor in extra costs such as flights and accommodation for up to 2 weeks.
What is the cost of egg freezing in the UK?
According to the HFEA the average cost of having your eggs collected and frozen in the UK is £3,350, with medication being an added £500-£1,500. Storage costs are extra and tend to be between £125 and £350 per year.
Thawing eggs and transferring them to the womb costs an average of £2,500. So, the whole process for egg freezing and thawing costs an average of £7,000-£8,000.
Should I go abroad for egg freezing?
The decision to go abroad for egg freezing should be made following careful research of clinics with particular regard to rules and regulations around long term storage. It should be remembered that if you need to use your frozen eggs in the future you will need to factor in an additional trip to the clinic which will have financial and time implications.
Can I ship my frozen eggs from a clinic abroad?
Dependent on the rules of the country in which the eggs are frozen you may be able to transport your eggs back to your home country for storage and use locally in the future. There are a number of countries where this is not possible and the reasons for this may be based on religious or ethical considerations. For instance, it is strictly forbidden to obtain genetic materials from another country if you live in countries such as India, Iraq, Turkey, or Nepal without permission from their respective Ministries of Health.
Generally however it is possible to transfer frozen eggs between the majority of countries as long as the journey involves licensed clinics at both ends.
There are a number of specialist companies that can be employed to transport frozen eggs between clinics. They provide a safe and legal service, ensuring that all necessary permits and customs documents are in order and organise every aspect of the transportation process so that it fully complies with all IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulations.
Can my eggs be damaged by freezing?
This is of course a natural anxiety and a question which is asked very often. But studies have shown that the range of congenital abnormalities observed in children born as a result of frozen eggs is similar to those born from spontaneous conceptions or through regular IVF. Most clinics now use vitrification rather than slow freezing to freeze both embryos and eggs as it is believed to be superior and indeed is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The word “vitrification” comes from the Latin term for glass. Eggs are subjected to rapid freezing which means that the water molecules don’t have time to form ice crystals, and instead instantaneously solidify into a glass-like structure. This procedure which ensures that the glass is devoid of all ice crystals and the embryos are not subjected to the physical damage that is associated with ice crystal formation.
Not all eggs will survive the freezing thawing process. The field of egg freezing is a developing one and no long term studies of children born as result of egg freezing have been undertaken. So despite the reassurances experts agree that it is important to continue auditing the data whilst the number of egg freezing cycles increases worldwide.
Are my chances of a successful pregnancy reduced using frozen eggs?
When experts review studies on egg freezing outcomes compared to using fresh eggs, they found that that the rates of fertilisation, embryo cleavage, high quality embryos and ongoing pregnancy did not differ between vitrification (freezing) and fresh egg groups.
If you need any more information on egg freezing, contact the clinics directly. This is always available free to do from this website.
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