Protecting Your Fertility
The belief that they will someday have a baby and become a mother is a common dream shared by nearly every woman. The question for most is not usually if they will have a child but rather when it will happen. Happily, this expectation is fulfilled naturally for many, but for others, personal circumstances or medical conditions can become barriers to ever achieving parenthood.
A woman’s fertility is largely dependant on the quality of her eggs. As a woman ages her fertility potential or egg quality is decreasing as are the chances of conception. Additionally, some medical conditions such as premature menopause accelerate the aging of eggs while other conditions, cancer or lupus for example require treatments that often have a negative affect on fertility. Whatever the cause, diminished egg quality significantly impacts ones ability to conceive.
The Center for Fertility Preservation at Shady Grove Fertility offers egg freezing technology (also called oocyte vitrification) to protect a woman’s fertility in all of these situations. By making the choice to freeze her eggs today a woman can lock in her fertility potential for future use when the circumstances and timing are right for her.
Age and Fertility Preservation
Fertility preservation pauses the biological clock. Female fertility begins declining in the early 20’s but conception rates remain high into the 30’s. After age 35, the decline accelerates to reach nearly zero pregnancy potential by the time the woman reaches age 45. In addition, women over 35 women have an increased risk of miscarriage and/or genetic abnormalities in their children as a result of age-dependent changes in egg quality. Therefore, the best age to preserve eggs is between 30-40 and optimally between 32-38. When a woman uses her frozen eggs in the future, even if a number of years have passed, both the pregnancy rates and the incidence of miscarriage and genetic abnormalities will be based on the age of the woman when the eggs were frozen, not her age when she uses the eggs.
Egg Freezing by Vitrification
Vitrification uses a new cell culture system that protect eggs from injury during the egg freezing/thawing process. This technology now enables us to freeze mature eggs with good survival after thawing and get good fertilization and pregnancy rates once they are thawed.
By applying the new advances in cryopreservation, many groups, including our own, have realized a sharp increase in survival rates of the eggs once thawed (over 80%) and subsequent fertilization rates (as high as 80%). These egg freezing improvements have led to pregnancy rates from frozen eggs from women younger than 35 years of age similar to pregnancy rates in cycles in which the eggs were not frozen, including in patients at Shady Grove Fertility Center. Now, women interested in freezing their eggs can consider the option of waiting until they wish to conceive at a later date of their own choosing.
Shady Grove Fertility has been successful in egg freezing by vitrification using donor eggs, for patients undergoing IVF fertility therapy, for eggs from women about to undergo cancer or other medical therapies that might compromise their fertility, and now offers the option for egg freezing for women who wish to delay their fertility for social, educational or professional reasons.
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