Egg Freezing -
A woman’s chance of conceiving decreases gradually in the late 20’s and, after the age of 38 there is a sharp decline in fertility.
A woman’s age is the most important factor affecting fertility. A woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever have, and over time due to ovulation and the natural process of cell loss, her egg count will decline. In addition, the egg quality will diminish due to the accumulation of chromosomal abnormalities in an egg over time. Due to this process, a woman’s chance of conceiving decreases gradually from age 30-35, and after age 40, there is a sharp decline in fertility leading to decreased conception and increased miscarriage rates.
The best time to conceive is a personal decision that takes significant thought and consideration. You may choose to freeze eggs for a number of reasons:
- Timing. You may not be ready to start a family now due to other priorities like education, career, travel, money and other obligations. You may not have found the right partner or just aren’t ready.
- Family Building. You may already have a child (or children) but by the time you are ready for more, your fertility may be affected.
- Medical Conditions. Certain medical conditions may impair your ability to have children, such as primary ovarian insufficiency, endometriosis and cancer treatments.
The Egg Freezing Process
The goal in egg freezing is to save the eggs in a given cycle that would have been lost in the natural process of cell loss and ovulation. You will take hormones in higher doses than your brain already produces to ensure the development of multiple eggs. During this 8-day process, your doctor will evaluate you with bloodwork and ultrasounds to assess your response to the hormones and make adjustments depending on how your eggs are growing. Once the number and size of the eggs have grown appropriately, the egg retrieval process is performed under anesthesia. The retrieved eggs that appear viable are frozen with the most sophisticated verification (freezing) technology. When you are ready to have a child, your frozen eggs will be thawed and fertilized in our lab. The resulting embryo can then be transferred into your uterus.
Is Egg Freezing Safe?
This is a very common question, and the answer is yes. Approximately 5,000 babies have been born from frozen eggs. One large study of over 900 babies born from the fertilization of previously frozen eggs showed no increased risk of birth defects when compared to the general population. Other studies have found no increased rate of chromosomal abnormalities or pregnancy complications in babies born from frozen eggs. Based on scientific data there is no damage that results from the long-term storage of frozen eggs. Human eggs can likely remain frozen and viable long term.
Fertility Preservation –
Oncofertility Options for Cancer Patients
Prior to cancer treatment, women have the option to either bank embryos or eggs. For patients who will receive abdominal or pelvic irradiation, it may be possible to perform a surgery in which the ovaries are moved out the radiation field. For patients with early stage gynecologic cancers, it may be possible to conserve reproductive organs at the time of cancer surgery.
For men and women who are sub-fertile after cancer treatment, assisted reproductive technologies may help achieve pregnancy. For cancer survivors who become menopausal after cancer treatment, egg donation is a highly effective option. A gestational surrogate may also be an option for women who are unable to carry a pregnancy after cancer therapy.