Choosing to freeze your eggs is a huge decision in your reproductive journey. But did you know 37% of women reported that the procedure changed their life? All because they weren’t aware of its side effects.
That’s not all; a staggering 64% of women over 37 years wished they’d taken the step sooner.
Thus, it’s vital to be well-informed. The success of egg freezing depends on understanding the entire process. This includes its implications and potential setbacks. Dive in as we unravel the complexities so you can make empowered choices.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
How Common are Egg Freezing Side Effects?
Egg-freezing side effects are rare.
For example, a study showed that only 0.76% of women experience complications. Of those, only 0.56% need emergency care. That’s less than one participant in a study including 12,600 women.
Egg Freezing Side Effects
Most egg-freezing side effects come from:
- Fertility medications, or
- The egg retrieval procedure.
Let’s break this down in more detail.
What are the Side Effects of the Fertility Medications Used in Egg Freezing?
All medications cause side effects. Fertility medications are no exception.
Fertility medications alter hormone levels. Hormones control various body functions. Thus, any changes in their levels can lead to side effects.
As a result, fertility medications can cause the following side effects:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Abdominal pain
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal irritation or discharge
- Swelling or tenderness at injection sites
- Vasovagal reflex
- Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
Is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) a Serious Side Effect of Egg-Freezing?
OHSS is a severe complication of egg freezing. It is also a result of the hormonal imbalances that fertility medications create. In particular, OHSS can occur in women with high levels of
- Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH), or
- Follicle-stimulating Hormone (FSH).
Luckily, OHSS is rare, only affecting 1-10% of women. The common symptoms that patients experience are:
- Stomach pain
- Trouble seeing
Unfortunately, in very rare (less than 2% of) cases, OHSS can lead to more severe symptoms. These include blood clots and difficulty breathing.
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, please seek immediate help.
What are the Side Effects of the Egg Retrieval Procedure?
The egg retrieval process is safe. But, like all procedures, it can cause some side effects. We can divide these into two categories:
- Side effects due to the HCG (Human chorionic gonadotrophic) shot. These are the result of the hormone imbalances that HCG creates.
- Adverse effects of using needles and anesthesia during the procedure.
Here are the common side effects patients experience during the egg retrieval process:
|Side effects due to HCG||Side effects of the procedure|
|Mild discomfort or pain||Vaginal bleeding or spotting|
|OHSS||Pain during urination or bowel movements|
|Bloating||Rare complications include:
|Bruising or soreness at the injection site|
How Long Do Egg Freezing Side Effects Last?
Mild side effects like bloating and pain usually settle in 2-3 days. But other more severe issues like OHSS can last 10-14 days.
Keep in mind these are general recommendations. Many factors can affect these timelines. For a more personalized answer, get in touch with us today.
The Mental Toll: How Can Egg Freezing Impact Your Mind?
Egg freezing affects the mind, too. In a study, women found the process emotionally challenging. Here’s why:
- Egg freezing is a huge decision. So, it can weigh on you mentally.
- The process has many steps. This can take a mental toll.
- Fertility medications can cause side effects. These can be frustrating to deal with.
- It’s a costly procedure. This can be a significant source of stress.
As a result, women can experience the following symptoms:
- Low mood
- Mood swings
- Feelings of loneliness
- Low self-esteem
- Decision fatigue
Does Egg Freezing Lead to Significant Mood Swings?
Yes, egg freezing leads to mood swings. In one study, women during the process reported feeling unhappy. Some even experienced thoughts of self-harm.
Mood swings during egg freezing are due to hormonal changes. For instance, fertility medications lower estrogen and progesterone levels. This leads to decreased serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a feel-good hormone. As a result, women experience low mood and mood swings due to lower serotonin levels.
Other Side Effects of Egg Freezing: Fact or Fiction
As egg freezing grows in popularity, some questions and myths have surfaced. It’s essential to separate fact from fiction. So, let’s address some of the most common ones.
Is Weight Gain a Potential Side Effect of Egg Freezing?
Yes, but it’s minimal and often temporary. In one study, the average weight gain during egg freezing was 387.7 grams. For context, this is the weight of two medium-sized apples.
Can Egg Freezing Result in Hair Loss?
It’s rare but possible.
In one study, 67% of participants using letrozole experienced hair thinning and loss.
Other fertility medicines do not cause hair loss. So, if you notice any hair changes, you can speak to your doctor about replacing letrozole.
Does Egg Freezing Impact Future Fertility Prospects?
Egg freezing doesn’t reduce the chances of a natural pregnancy later. Women can still conceive the old-fashioned way after egg freezing. A study of 5,180 women proves this.
Is There an Increased Risk of Cancer Due to Egg Freezing?
No. The egg-freezing process does not increase cancer risk.
Some research does show a slight increase in breast cancer risk due to the egg-freezing process. Small, small studies also report an increased ovarian cancer risk. However, researchers believe that genetics, not egg freezing, are responsible for this.
Strategies for Managing Egg Freezing Side Effects
A proactive approach can help reduce egg-freezing side effects. This requires predicting the adverse effects before they appear. For example:
- In one study, pre-procedure screening for OHSS risk factors reduces OHSS incidence.
- In another study, psychological help was vital before, during, and after the procedure. It reduced anxiety and depression by 23%.
Managing the Physical Side Effects of Egg Freezing: Can You Use Over-the-Counter Medication?
Over-the-counter (OTC) Medications can help ease egg-freezing side effects. For example:
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with feeling sore or stomach aches.
- Antihistamines, like benadryl, can reduce itching. Doctors also recommend them for mild allergic reactions.
- Antiemetics can help when you are feeling nauseous.
- Ointments can reduce pain and irritation at injection sites.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to rest after the procedure. This allows the body to recover.
Please remember these are general recommendations. For more personalized solutions, please get in touch with us.
What can you do to Manage the Mental Side Effects of Egg Freezing?
Dealing with egg freezing isn’t just about the physical. Guarding your mental well-being is equally crucial.
Research shows that psychological interventions can reduce anxiety. This means having a psychologist present during the process can help reduce stress.
Additionally, you can engage in mood-boosting activities, like exercise. Techniques like meditation and mindfulness can also help. Likewise, you can reach out to supportive friends and family to lift your spirits.
Egg freezing can have various side effects – from physical pains to emotional tolls. Thus, awareness and being proactive are essential.
Luckily, these side effects are mild and easy to manage. The right over-the-counter medicines and tailored post-op care can help. As can psychological therapy and having open dialogues with healthcare professionals.
With that in mind, if you’re ready to start this empowering journey, contact us today!
Azrung Fayaz is a Board-certified physician with 5+ years of experience working with trusted healthcare companies worldwide, such as Bicycle Health, Nectar Allergy, and NOVI Health. He has authored more than 200+ articles and 10 international publications. His areas of expertise include Health & Wellness, Weight loss, Nutrition, Mental Health, Joint Disease, Addiction (Opioid/Alcohol), Health-Tech and Reproductive Health. You can also follow him on Linkedin.
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