Fertility Preservation

Elective oocyte preservation (egg freezing)

As women age, their fertility declines, primarily because of a significant increase in chromosomal abnormalities in the eggs of older women. This affects embryo quality. In addition, older women produce fewer eggs.

Chromosomal abnormalities are the main cause of miscarriage. Women over 40 have an increased risk of miscarriage and low IVF success rates due to these changes in egg quality.

Under the age of 35, approximately 20% (1 in 5) of women will have a miscarriage. At age 40, the miscarriage rate goes up to 40% and by age 45 it rises to above 60%.

Egg freezing can liberate a woman from her biological clock, and the pressures of finding a mate, so that she can focus on and take advantage of all the career and life opportunities available to her.

At Virginia Fertility Associates in Richmond, Virginia, we offer Elective Oocyte freezing. This is a quick, safe and very effective technique of fertility preservation. Studies show that IVF cycles with frozen eggs succeed as well as IVF cycles with fresh eggs when the eggs are frozen using the newest technique called oocyte vitrification. This is the technique used at Virginia Fertility Associates.

We recommend that any young woman who is thinking about delaying having children consider a consultation.  At Virginia Fertility Associates, we think of Elective Oocyte freezing as fertility insurance program for your future legacy.

Medical elective fertility preservation

When a reproductive-aged woman receives a diagnosis of cancer or a severe rheumatologic condition such as Lupus, she faces the daunting reality that her disease may affect her reproductive options, and treatments can damage or destroy fertility.

This is also true for men with a new diagnosis of cancer. Men with testicular, bladder, urethra or colon cancer risk loss of their fertility, and their treatments can render them infertile.

Where there is a risk of damage to the reproductive system, established methods for fertility preservation are available. Options like freezing of sperm, embryos and eggs are proven methods of fertility preservation. Men and women alike need to understand their options before treatment begins. Fertility specialists should be consulted early to help cancer patients preserve their reproductive capabilities.

Who is at risk?

Approximately 10% of new cancer diagnoses occur in patients under age 45. Moreover, childhood and adolescent cancers are generally survivable (>85%), but survivors face the late effects of cancer treatments on their fertility.

What can be done?

After diagnosis of a serious medical problem, and before treatment

Patients should be referred to our reproductive specialists. A fertility assessment will determine their fertility status, and the impact of the disease and treatment on the reproductive system will be discussed with options for fertility preservation.

Recovery of fertility after cancer treatment

In some cases, fertility can be recovered after cancer treatment. A fertility assessment will determine the fertility status, and the impact of the disease and treatment on the reproductive system.

Having a fertility assessment requires no commitment to treatment. But it is important to help you make informed decisions about family planning based on your current health.

What options are available for fertility preservation?

For Women:

1) Egg banking or embryo banking

This involves IVF ovarian stimulation with medications, and harvesting and freezing eggs for future implantation. This is an option for post-puberty and pre-menopausal females, because freezing involves ovarian stimulation using hormones. For women who are healthy and unattached, this could be the best option.

For women who have a partner, ovarian stimulation, egg harvesting and fertilization with the partner’s sperm create embryos that can be safely frozen and retrieved for future use.

For women with cancer or other serious medical conditions that require toxic therapies, egg harvesting and freezing, or embryo freezing before treatment begins is the best approach.

2) Radiation shielding

Radiation shielding during radiation therapy can reduce scatter radiation to the ovaries. For women who face planned radiation treatment this is an option. It is also an option for pre-pubertal women who can’t undergo ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval.

3) Donor embryos or eggs

After treatment, this is a viable option.

4) Surrogacy and adoption are also potential options

For Men:

Sperm banking – the freezing and storage of semen. It is available for post-pubertal men. Even if the man has low sperm counts with poor motility they should bank their sperm because it can be frozen for many years during which new options may become available.

Testicular sperm extraction is a technique that involves the collection of sperm by surgical extraction of the sperm from the testicles. The sperm extracted are collected, frozen and stored for future use.

In all cases, men should be offered sperm banking before treatment. If therapy has begun, there is a higher risk of genetic damage to the sperm.

Whether facing a cancer diagnosis and exposure to treatments that can cause infertility, or elective fertility preservation to keep your options open, call us. At Virginia Fertility Associates, we will assess your fertility status and help you understand your options. Get the facts so you can make an informed decision. In the Richmond area choose the best. Call us!