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In today’s world, many people are having children later in life. You may want to finish your education, establish yourself in your career, or take time to travel before having kids. Some patients have concerns about the aging of their reproductive cells and want to preserve them for having children in the future. Others have conditions or need certain treatments that might adversely affect their fertility, and they want to make sure that they can have their own biological child when they are ready.
Whatever your situation may be, we offer various options to help preserve your fertility so you can have a baby when the time is right for you.
Should I Freeze My Egg and/or Sperm or My Embryo(s)?
Depending on your situation, you may choose to freeze your eggs, sperm, or embryos. Each method can be beneficial for the right patient. You will have help in deciding which option is right for you.
At Reproductive Fertility, we will clearly explain your options and guide you in making the right decision for your unique needs. Fertility specialists Dr. Saadat and Dr. Goldstein as well as their qualified staff are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have along the way.
Egg Freezing for Women
When a female is born, her ovaries already contain all of the eggs (oocytes) she will have for her lifetime. New eggs are not produced by the body, and the number of eggs in the ovaries declines every month. Because of this, the viability of a woman’s eggs (known as the ovarian reserve) decreases as she ages.
Women may consider freezing their eggs if they want to have their own biological children but might not have them until they are in their 30s or older. Egg freezing is an ideal option for women who do not know what partner they may want to have children with.
Egg freezing is also beneficial for patients with cancer who will need radiation or chemotherapy, as these treatments can damage a patient’s fertility. Women who need their ovaries removed can also have their eggs frozen prior to the procedure.
Sperm Freezing for Men
The male testicles are constantly producing new sperm, meaning that even at an older age, a man can still produce viable sperm for fertilizing an egg. However, if a man’s sperm count is low or if he has ejaculatory dysfunction, he may consider freezing his higher-quality sperm samples for later use. Those with occupations that put them at a higher risk for exposure to chemicals, radiation, extreme heat, and other conditions that can cause sterility may also want to freeze their sperm to preserve their fertility.
Sperm freezing (cryopreservation) is also beneficial for men who will be undergoing a procedure or treatment that may damage the viability of their sperm, such as:
- Cancer therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation
- Prostate surgery
- Testicular surgery
Embryo Freezing for IVF Patients
When an egg is fertilized by sperm, it develops into an embryo. In vitro fertilization (IVF) produces embryos that can be cryopreserved (frozen) for use at a future date during treatment known as frozen embryo transfer (FET).
IVF patients using preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to test their embryos for diseases and chromosomal abnormalities will need to freeze their embryos to preserve them while the test results are developed. Once the results are in, the healthiest embryo can be thawed and prepared for transfer to the uterus.
With IVF, multiple embryos are usually created, but only one or a limited number are transferred to the uterus in hopes of achieving a pregnancy. The remaining embryos can be frozen to prevent the need for another IVF cycle.
How Are Eggs, Sperm, and Embryos Frozen?
Once the eggs or sperm are retrieved and/or the embryo is created, these reproductive cells are frozen using a process called vitrification. This process is monitored closely to preserve the health of the cells, and they are treated with cryoprotectant before they are frozen. Once they have reached the designated temperature, the sperm, eggs, or embryo(s) are placed in liquid nitrogen and stored indefinitely until you are ready to have children.