Nothing is faster than the speed of life. Careers, relationships, your health, and so much more. But starting a family just isn’t part of your plan right now. Still you wonder about your fertility if you wait too long. Fortunately, there’s a variety of ways to achieve pregnancy at a later date through in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intra uterine insemination (IUI). Female fertility options include egg and embryo freezing and males can also opt to freeze their sperm.
Fertility preservation or egg freezing offers women a safe and effective way to preserve eggs at their current age in order to help maximize their fertility in the future. Whether by choice or due to a cancer diagnosis, speak with a specialist at RMANJ today about your fertility preservation options.
Unfortunately, many cancer treatments can impair fertility in women. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other interventions can significantly damage ovarian function making fertility preservation critical for patients who may want to have a family in the future. For patients dealing with an indication of cancer, speaking with a fertility specialist quickly and cryopreserving eggs for future use is crucial. Usually cancer patients can be seen within 24-48 hours by a fertility specialists and their case expedited so both a fertility preservation cycle and subsequent cancer treatment can be completed in a timely manner.
If you are planning to undergo egg freezing for cancer treatment-related loss of fertility, it’s important to coordinate care with your oncologist as well as your RMANJ treatment team. In some cases, your cancer treatment may need to be prioritized over fertility preservation.
It’s well known that fertility declines with age. At birth, a woman will have all the eggs she will ever have in her lifetime, between 1- 2 million. But by the time she’s in her early 30’s her pool of eggs or ovarian reserve has decreased substantially to less than half that.
A secondary challenge for women is one of egg quality: by the time a women is in her late 30’s more than 50% of her eggs will be of low-quality due to genetic imbalances or other issues related to her age. By freezing her eggs at the youngest age possible, women are likely to have more options and have a higher chance of success when it comes time to use those frozen eggs.
You’ll meet with your RMANJ physician, nurse, and a financial counselor to map out an individualized approach to your egg freezing cycle. Your work-up will include hormone testing and an ultrasound.
A simple blood test to measure FSH, AMH, and Estrogen can quickly determine your ovarian reserve and give you a good sense to how many eggs (oocytes) might be retrieved. Cancer patients looking to preserve their fertility can be seen usually within 24-48 hours.
In order to stimulate your ovaries to produce a larger than normal number of eggs, you will need to have daily injections of a type of hormone called a gonadotropin. An RMANJ nurse or physician will teach you how to inject these under the skin yourself. This process may continue for 7-10 days, during which your progress will be monitored via ultrasound and bloodwork.
Once the follicles containing the eggs have reached an appropriate size, you will receive a single injection of a different gonadotropin, known as an hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) trigger, to help final egg maturation and stimulate ovulation before retrieval.
Over a 7-10 day period you’ll taking injectable fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries to grow multiple follicles. You will be monitored very closely by a physician and required to visit the office for blood work and ultrasounds on a regular basis during your cycle.
Thirty-six hours after your final shot – hCG trigger, your eggs will be retrieve using an ultrasound-guided needle. The procedure takes just 30 minutes and you will receive light anesthesia to avoid discomfort. Once the eggs have been retrieved, they will be vitrified, or rapidly frozen, and stored.
Your eggs will be immediately cryopreserved or “frozen” by a process called vitrification. Vitrification is considered the best method for both egg and embryo cryopreservation as it limits the build-up of ice crystals which can damage the egg or embryo during the thaw process.
Recent published data has reported that more than 80% of eggs thawed survive the cryopreservation process. When selecting a fertility program, ask if vitrification is the standard for cryopreservation.
For additional questions and information on biological clock fertility and freezing eggs, please contact us today.