Certain health situations arise where pregnancy is not currently optimal, or fertility may be threatened. For women with hopes of motherhood in the future, elective fertility preservation, through the professionals at Global Fertility & Genetics in New York, may be the solution. Call Global Fertility & Genetics today to arrange a consultation to discuss your needs.
Egg Freezing Q&A
What is elective fertility preservation?
A woman’s fertility declines with age. This age-related decline in fertility is due to a woman having fewer eggs in her ovarian reserve or when the health of her eggs is compromised. The advent of successful egg freezing provides women with the opportunity to preserve fertility by freezing young eggs, which can be used later if needed. The woman’s ovarian reserve is first assessed through several tests to determine suitability. These tests include:
- Assessment of Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) levels in the blood
- Ovarian Volume Assessment: Assessment of the size of the ovaries
- Antral Follicle Count (AFC): Counting follicles seen via ultrasound to predict ovarian reserve
The woman’s eggs are then retrieved, frozen, and stored. When the woman is ready to start her family, the process continues. Her eggs are thawed and fertilized in the laboratory (in vitro) by injecting a single sperm cell into a single egg, a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The resulting embryos are cultured in the laboratory for up to 5 days, then a predetermined number of quality embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus to attempt uterine implantation and pregnancy.
Are there other situations where egg freezing helps?
Yes. Infertility can occur after life-saving treatments for cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation can have detrimental effects on the woman’s ovarian reserve and cause early ovarian failure, making it difficult for conception. The doctors at Global Fertility & Genetics work directly with oncologists, coordinating cancer treatment with fertility preservation. In most cases, women undergo fertility preservation before the beginning of cancer treatment.
Fertility preservation requires ovarian stimulation to maximize the number of developing follicles in the ovaries. Ovarian stimulation involves hormone treatment lasting approximately 10 days, followed by surgical harvesting of the released eggs, which are then prepared and frozen using a process called vitrification. These are then stored for future use. Depending on the circumstances, the patient may wish to store embryos (fertilized eggs). In this case, her eggs are harvested and then fertilized in the laboratory with the partner’s or donor sperm. The resulting embryos are cryopreserved.
Is egg freezing safe?
Yes. The frozen eggs or embryos remain viable after thawing, and certain levels of redundancy provide a safety margin. There may be some risks to ovarian stimulation drugs, however this is not yet a proven risk.