Fertility preservation, or egg freezing, is for women (and individuals born with female reproductive organs) who may not be ready for a baby now. It is available for both elective reasons, such as not having found the right partner, and medical reasons, such as undergoing treatment for cancer. In both cases, egg freezing allows you to preserve your eggs at the age you froze them, so they can be protected against further aging or radiation and chemotherapy.
In either case, your eggs will wait until you are ready to use them, putting the power back in your court.
Egg freezing allows you to press pause on your fertility. By freezing your eggs while they are still young and healthy, you can empower yourself to plan your future fertility your way. The process is safe, relatively quick and rewarding, and the chances of your eggs surviving their thaw are very good.
What is Egg Freezing?
As a woman ages, unfortunately, the quantity and quality of her eggs diminish. While the decline in quality actually starts when women are in their 20s, this process accelerates around age 35, just as many women are hitting their stride in their professional lives.
Egg freezing allows you to press pause on your fertility.
Your Initial Consultation
During your initial consultation, your RMA doctor will review your medical information to learn more about your fertility and overall health. Your ovarian reserve (another way of saying the number of eggs remaining in the ovary) will then be determined with a blood test that tests AMH levels and an ultrasound to visualize the ovaries. Both of these are done in our office.
During this visit, we will also let you know what to expect from the egg freezing process. This will include sharing information about related medications, scheduling and protocols and answering any questions you may have.
Preparing for Your Egg Freezing Cycle
When you ovulate naturally, only a single egg is produced. Hormone injections, which are taken for 8-12 days prior to your egg retrieval, will stimulate your ovaries so that multiple eggs develop during your cycle.
During this time, you’ll need to visit our office several times for ultrasound monitoring and blood tests in order to ensure that you are responding well to the medication.
Your Egg Retrieval
Once your eggs have finished maturing, you will be scheduled for an egg retrieval. The egg retrieval process is an outpatient procedure (performed under twilight anesthesia) and typically only takes between five to ten minutes. During the retrieval, your doctor will retrieve several eggs from your ovaries with the help of a transvaginal ultrasound.
Immediately after the retrieval, your eggs will be frozen.
Cancer and Fertility Preservation
Unfortunately, many cancer treatments can impair fertility in both women and men. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other interventions can significantly damage ovarian function in women and decrease total motile sperm count in men, making fertility preservation critical for patients who may want to have a family in the future.
We Respond Quickly
For patients dealing with an indication of cancer, speaking with a fertility doctor quickly and freezing eggs and sperm for future use is crucial. Usually, cancer patients can be seen within 24-48 hours by one of our fertility doctors, and their case is expedited so both an egg freezing cycle and subsequent cancer treatment can be completed in a timely manner.
If you are planning to undergo egg freezing for cancer treatment, it’s important to coordinate care with an oncologist as well as our treatment team. In some cases, cancer treatment may need to be prioritized over fertility preservation.