Fertility Preservation

Fertility Preservation

Throughout the years, fertility preservation has been a hot topic in the media. For many women, some of the things you want to do may conflict with your desire to have a family, included relationships, career plans, and your personal health can easily lead you to postponing having a child until later in life, but fertility diminishes over time. Advanced technology has changed many aspects of how we live in today’s world and thanks to assisted reproductive technology (ART) including in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination. There are several options to preserve your fertility that have a successful pregnancy later in life. Female patients may also extend their fertility by freezing eggs or embryos. Men can also choose to have their sperm frozen for later use.

A fertility preservation technique known as egg freezing, is a safe and effective way to preserve eggs in their current state. This prevents them from diminishing over time and maximizes the patient’s future fertility. People choose fertility preservation so they pursue things like careers, education, and personal relationships, some unexpected concerns like cancer diagnoses can also impede your desire to raise a family. Whether you’re choosing to extend your fertility or want to preserve your ability to have children in the future after receiving a cancer diagnosis, speak with one of the specialists at RMASoCal today about your options.

Fertility & Cancer

Many cancer treatments can impair female fertility. Chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and other cancer therapies can damage ovarian function. Patients who want to have a family in the future can benefit from fertility preservation procedures. It’s imperative to meet with a fertility specialist as soon as possible after a positive cancer diagnosis. A fertility specialist can quickly preserve your eggs for future use before beginning treatment, and most fertility specialists will expedite cancer patients’ procedures since time is a critical factor for both preserving fertility and starting cancer treatment. If you’re considering fertility preservation due to a cancer diagnosis, it’s vital that you coordinate your fertility care with your oncologist and your RMASoCal team. Unfortunately, some types of cancer may prioritize treatment over fertility preservation.

The Biological Clock

The biological clock is ticking, it includes the natural process of aging and most people are aware that fertility diminishes over time. Women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, typically between one and two million per woman. By the time a woman reaches her 30s, her pool of eggs will be less than half this amount, and the quality of more than half of the remaining eggs will be low due to various possible genetic influences and age-related issues. Women have far more fertility preservation options when they opt to freeze their eggs at the youngest age possible.

Egg Freezing Process

CONSULTATION AND WORK-UP

At RMASoCal, we will go over your medical history, questions and concerns you may have, then help you create an individualized plan for your egg freezing procedure. This typically includes hormone testing, an ultrasound, and a standard blood test to assess your hormone levels and ovarian reserve. Cancer patients are usually seen within 24-48 hours.

OVARIAN STIMULATION

The goal of the second stage is to harvest as many mature eggs as possible form the ovaries. The RMASoCal team will instruct you how to administer your injections yourself at home, and this process may continue for up to ten days. Our nursing team will closely monitor the treatment progress using blood work and ultrasound. Once the eggs reach the appropriate size, a final injection of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) pushes the eggs to the final maturation stage and stimulates ovulation prior to retrieval.

OOCYTE RETRIEVAL

An egg retrieval procedure will be scheduled approximately 36 hours following the final injection. This is a 30 minute in-office procedure, and possibly under an anesthesia or acupuncture. Doctors will use an ultrasound probe to guide the needle into the follicles of the ovary to collect the eggs. All ovarian follicles are drained and fluid is sent to the lab to locate eggs. Most women can return home after an hour or two following the procedure.

VITRIFICATION

Once we perform oocyte retrieval, the eggs are rapidly frozen and stored. This “vitrification” process cryopreserves (freezes) the eggs while minimizing the buildup of ice crystals. These ice crystals can damage the egg or embryo during the thawing process. Findings from recent scientific studies indicate that more than 80% of thawed eggs survive. You should always opt for vitrification if available as opposed to other cryopreservation methods with lower success rates.

If you have additional questions about fertility preservation and egg freezing, please contact us today.