Elective Fertility Preservation
Oocyte cryopreservation, or egg “freezing,” is now available to help preserve fertility. Once considered experimental, this procedure is now approved as a standardized treatment of care for fertility preservation in women who have delayed having children. (In another blog, we discuss fertility preservation for newly diagnosed cancer patients.)
About Female Fertility
The female body works very differently from the male reproductive system. While men continuously produce sperm, women are born with all of the eggs they’re going to have ‒ and as women get older the pool of available eggs goes down. In addition, the chance of having genetic errors increases as women age. These changes start in women in their early 20s but accelerate at the age of 30. Fertility goes down the quickest from age 35 onward. This biological clock is a well known phenomenon.
Breakthroughs in recent technologies, however, allow women the option harvest and freeze unfertilized eggs (also called oocyte preservation) through an in vitro fertilization cycle. This fertility preservation offers women the chance to have an “insurance policy” to have children if natural conception ultimately fails. This option is particularly suited for women who may prefer to wait when it comes to starting a family for either career reasons or for women who just haven’t found “Mr. Right” yet.
Stopping the Clock with Elective Fertility Preservation
While the quality of eggs continually decreases with age, the quality of frozen eggs is tied to when they’re retrieved and cryopreserved instead of when embryos are placed back into the uterus. In other words, the chances of the success are tied to the age you are when you actually freeze the eggs. Some consider this technique and the flexibility it affords women to being a major societal shift, comparable to the invention of the birth control pill. While the technology is still relatively new and cutting edge, many experts believe this will become an extremely common method of maximizing fertility potential in young women.
Who’s a Good Candidate for Fertility Preservation?
Anyone who is 30 years old and wants to start a family in the future is a good candidate for fertility preservation. This is also an excellent option for people who have a family history of premature menopause or women who may need removal of their uterus and ovaries and wish to preserve their eggs. Fertility preservation has also opened up new opportunities for young women facing cancer, since certain cancer treatments are well documented to cause a decrease in fertility in women.
What are the Chances of Success?
Each mature egg has a roughly 5% to 10% chance of resulting in pregnancy, and typical IVF cycles in young women commonly result in more than 10 to 15 retrieved eggs. So while it does not guarantee pregnancy, fertility preservation offers an excellent “insurance policy” to fall back on in the event that natural conception is unsuccessful.
At Fertility Associates of Memphis, we are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art technologies, including oocyte cryopreservation, or egg freezing, that maximizes the fertility preservation options available to our patients. Please visit us online at www.fertilitymemphis.com for more information, or call our office at 901-747-2229.