Fertility Preservation can Help You Conceive
“Fertility Preservation” refers to several different treatments designed to maintain a person’s reproductive potential for future use. Fertility preservation was initially offered mainly for cancer patients or any other patient with an imminent risk of losing their fertility. Today fertility preservation is commonly used as a method to stop the biological clock. At the Los Angeles Reproductive Center, Drs. Winkler and Kalan are experts in all forms of fertility preservation.
Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, is quickly becoming the most common form of fertility preservation in the United States. While egg freezing’s popularity has recently increased significantly, the process has been studied since the mid-1980s. In the early 2000s, an advancement in the freezing technique, called vitrification, made the process much more efficient and successful. As a result, egg freezing has become widely and is believed to have success rates close to those of IVF with non-frozen eggs.
Embryo freezing is another method of fertility preservation, which is usually more applicable to couples or women who have selected a sperm source. The difference between embryo and egg freezing is that embryo freezing involves the cryopreservation of a fertilized egg (embryo) usually when it is five days old. A five-day old frozen embryo has already crossed several of the critical thresholds required for an egg to eventually become a baby. Therefore, embryo freezing provides patients with more accurate expectations, in terms of potential success rates, compared to egg freezing. Embryo freezing also allows for the use of preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). This technology reveals the chromosome content and gender for each embryo. At the completion of an embryo freezing cycle the physicians of LARC can accurately predict the implantation potential for each frozen embryo. The biggest drawback of embryo freezing for some patients is that it requires commitment to a sperm source.
Combining Fertility Preservation with Natural Conception
Some patients who are considering fertility preservation also consider becoming pregnant. Such patients may choose to freeze some eggs and fertilize others or freeze embryos for the future while pursuing natural conception with a partner or donor sperm. This approach allows a patient to preserve eggs or embryos for the future and begin her family without waiting.
Sperm freezing has been performed for decades. In fact, sperm freezing was the first form of fertility preservation that was perfected. Sperm freezing is especially useful for men who are at risk of losing their reproductive function. Surgery on the reproductive organs, cancer, radiation treatment and chemotherapy can all potentially compromise a man’s ability to make sperm. Thus, sperm freezing is a practical option for men facing these situations.
Ovarian Tissue Freezing
Ovarian tissue freezing is an experimental technique for women who are facing a treatment or surgery that may result in the loss of her eggs. Surgical procedures for benign or malignant reasons or cancer treatment with chemotherapy and or radiation can all severely diminish or eliminate a woman’s egg supply. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation promises a way to preserve a woman’s eggs within the natural environment of the ovary until the tissue can be returned to the body for future use. Theoretically, one of the greatest advantages of this technique is that it would allow a woman to conceive in the future without the use of IVF. As this technique is still very experimental, it’s practicality and success rates are not known. Further, it is not readily available to the general public.
Ovarian tissue freezing may prove to be especially useful to younger women diagnosed with cancer and facing chemotherapy and or radiation. In such patients, stimulating ovaries and retrieving eggs may not be possible, but ovarian tissue cryopreservation could be.
Fertility preservation is an important component of reproductive medicine and should be considered as part of any person’s reproductive planning. Medical, social, financial and ethical considerations are all involved in the decision to peruse fertility preservation. The doctors and staff at the Los Angeles Reproductive Center have the experience, expertise, compassion and competence to help guide you through the fertility preservation process. If you have questions or would like to meet with one of our board certified fertility specialists, please call us at (818) 946-8051., We look forward to speaking with you.