The old saying about not keeping your eggs in one basket could apply to fertility. Women are born with a finite number of oocytes (eggs), released from the ovaries each month from the first menses through menopause. Advances in reproductive technology now make it possible for doctors at Dallas Fertility Associates to retrieve eggs from that symbolic ‘basket’ during the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process, freezing and storing them outside the female body to preserve fertility.
Egg Freezing, Then and Now
For years, freezing techniques allowed fertility doctors to effectively preserve sperm and fertilized eggs (embryos) for future use. The problems primarily occurred when attempting to freeze unfertilized eggs. Ice crystals would damage the delicate infrastructure of the egg and cause the outer membrane to harden.
Now, scientists have discovered a method of fast-freezing, called vitrification, which protects and preserves the egg. When a woman is ready to get pregnant, the stored eggs are “rehydrated”, rather than thawed. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) enables a fertility lab embryologist to inject sperm directly into the egg, eliminating sperm motility issues and the egg membrane as barriers to pregnancy.
Who Benefits from Fertility Preservation?
Reproductive endocrinologists at Dallas Fertility Associates offer this breakthrough in fertility preservation to women who have been diagnosed with cancer or other chronic illnesses that require chemotherapy therapies that could damage the reproductive organs. We also counsel and provide fertility treatment to women choosing to delay getting pregnant for personal reasons.
Sophisticated cancer treatments provide hope to men and women who can expect to overcome their disease and resume their lives. Unfortunately, the very therapies that save lives can destroy someone’s chances to get pregnant. As soon as possible after a diagnosis, speak with a fertility doctor about your plans to start a family. Dallas Fertility works closely with oncologists to ensure that the egg retrieval process does not interrupt live-saving treatment.
Age and Infertility: Elective Fertility Preservation
The ideal time to pursue elective fertility preservation is before eggs begin to decline in quality and quantity, around age 35. A consultation with Dallas Fertility Associates will provide the timeline, associated costs and available options for pursing IVF egg retrieval and egg freezing for women between the ages of 20 and 37.
While the advanced reproductive technology may offer hope when special circumstances exist that may prevent getting pregnant, egg freezing is considered an experimental procedure and should not be viewed as insurance for future fertility. Dallas Fertility Associates hears from women that feel empowered by egg freezing because fertility preservation helps keep the dream of having a family alive. However, Dallas Fertility doctors stress that egg freezing is not intended to replace traditional methods of starting a family.
Contact the specialists at Dallas-Fort Worth Fertility Associates to learn more options for overcoming female and male fertility.