You’ve heard people talking about it, you’ve read about it and maybe you’ve even considered doing it yourself. Egg freezing has been a major topic of conversation over the past few years, with more and more women delaying pregnancy well into their 30s and 40s. Here are a few super-basic facts to know before you research any further.

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What Is Egg Freezing Exactly? 
It’s the process of stimulating the ovaries with hormones to produce eggs and then retrieving those eggs and cooling them to subzero temperatures so they can be thawed and used at a later date.

Why Do Women Freeze Their Eggs? 
For a number of reasons. Some women freeze their eggs as a security blanket if they aren’t ready for children immediately but want to have the option to get pregnant down the road. Women who are dealing with a medical issue like cancer may freeze their eggs before undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.

When Do Women Typically Freeze Their Eggs? 
It depends, but in general, the sooner, the better. Since women are born with a finite number of eggs, the ones released at a younger age are typically more viable for producing a healthy baby. While women in their 40s have certainly had success with frozen eggs, most doctors agree that under 35 is ideal for egg freezing.

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What Does the Retrieval Entail? 
The process of retrieving eggs is exactly the same as the first stage of in vitro fertilization. First you take fertility drugs to stimulate egg maturation in a process called ovarian stimulation. When the eggs have matured, a doctor will remove them using an ultrasound probe inserted into each ovary. Once retrieved, the eggs are frozen and preserved for future use.

How Do You Feel During the Process? 
Many women experience significant bloating during the ovarian stimulation phase. That’s normal, since the ovaries expand to accommodate all the maturing eggs. The actual retrieval is virtually painless, though less than 5 percent of patients get something called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which could lead to nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain.

How Much Does It Cost? 
Insurance covers the cost for some women, but without insurance, it’s pricey. The hormones taken before retrieval typically cost between $2,000 and $3,000 and the retrieval itself costs upwards of $10,000. From there, you’ll pay an annual storage fee to keep the eggs frozen, which is usually around $1,000 per year.

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What Are the Chances of Having a Baby with a Frozen Egg?
According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the chance that a single frozen egg will result in a birth is between 2 and 12 percent. For that reason, fertility doctors recommend freezing multiple eggs at a time to maximize the chance of success.

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