Fertility Preservation

Egg Freezing – Social Reasons

Choosing to freeze your eggs

Even if you want children, it may not be possible for financial, career or relationship reasons.

Fertility declines with age, so it can be difficult for some women to get pregnant later in life. Egg freezing gives you a choice; you can preserve your fertility to start a family later.

What is egg freezing?

Egg freezing is a method of storing your eggs to preserve fertility and allow you to have a baby later. It’s an option usually considered by women not in a position to have a baby, or whose fertility is at risk for medical reasons.

Choosing to freeze your eggs doesn’t mean you’re robbing yourself of viable eggs from your egg supply (ovarian reserve). Some women who freeze their eggs don’t use them because they later fall pregnant naturally.

The egg freezing process

During every cycle, eggs grow in fluid filled sacs (called follicles) on the ovaries. Only 1 egg will mature and be released (through ovulation), the rest will die. The egg freezing process, as with an IVF cycle, helps all the eggs to mature.

Stimulation of your ovaries

To do this, you’ll undertake a series of hormone medications to help stimulate your ovaries for around 10-12 days. Your fertility specialist will discuss the best medications and stimulation techniques for you.

Generally, stimulation is by giving yourself hormone injections using a tiny needle under the skin. Don’t worry, it’s not scary, and your fertility nurse will help you through the process. During the stimulation period, you’ll be monitored via blood tests and ultrasounds.

The eggs stimulated to grow would have grown or died during your natural cycle
that month. The stimulation mimics your body’s natural processes. It doesn’t affect future egg supply or lead to premature menopause.

Egg collection

When your eggs are ready to be collected, you’ll visit the hospital for a short procedure. You’ll be asleep, so you won’t feel a thing. The procedure itself takes around 10-15 minutes and you can usually go home in 1-2 hours.

Your fertility specialist will extract the fluid from the follicles on your ovaries, which contains your eggs. The eggs are extracted vaginally by your fertility specialist, so there’s no cuts or scars.

As with any procedure under anaesthetic, you might feel tired or groggy. Bring a support person as you won’t be able to drive.

Once your eggs have been collected, your fertility specialist passes them directly to our scientists. These skilled scientists identify the mature eggs to be frozen; only mature eggs are frozen as immature eggs don’t create a viable pregnancy. The scientists remove the eggs from the fluid and delicately remove their outer shell.

The eggs are then frozen in the lab using a method called vitrification, or snap freezing. The fluid is removed from the eggs to prevent damage when they are frozen.

Scientifically, there’s no time limit on how long eggs can stay frozen.

Using your frozen eggs

When you’re ready to use your frozen eggs to try and have a baby, see your fertility specialist to develop a treatment plan.

When it’s time, your eggs will be thawed by removing them from the freezing solution and quickly warming to 37 degrees Celsius. After a short recovery, the eggs are ready for insemination, usually by injecting a single sperm into the egg (ICSI). After fertilisation, the egg becomes an embryo, and a frozen embryo transfer (FET) is completed.

Should I freeze my eggs?

You may want to freeze your eggs if you’re:

• not in a position to have a child but would like the chance in the future
• worried about your fertility
• at risk due to a medical issue such as cancer.

Talk to your fertility specialist about tests available to check if egg freezing is right for you. You may need to have an egg timer test (AMH blood test) to check your ovarian reserve.

How successful is egg freezing?

A frozen egg does not always result in a pregnancy. The two main factors affecting your chances of success are the age of the eggs, (the age you are when you freeze your eggs), and how many eggs are frozen.
• At 30, approximately 10 eggs are required to achieve one pregnancy.
• At 40, around 20 eggs are required.


Fertility Preservation For Medical Reasons

Fertility preservation

We understand that you may need to make an important decision about preserving your fertility.

Uncertainty about your future fertility can be daunting, even for those who haven’t thought about starting a family. You have choices to preserve your fertility, so you can start or grow your family in the future.

Choosing the right option for you

Your oncologist, specialist or surgeon will work closely with your fertility specialist to recommend your best options for preserving your fertility without putting off any other treatment.

Preserving female fertility

Female fertility can be protected and preserved through different options depending on your specific circumstances, including:

• egg freezing
• embryo freezing
• ovarian tissue freezing
• taking fertility-protecting medications.

Egg freezing

Egg freezing allows a woman to store eggs to preserve fertility. When you’re ready to use your eggs, they are thawed and fertilised before being implanted into your uterus. The process generally takes a couple of weeks, and can be fast-tracked for patients who need urgent medical treatment.

Embryo freezing

If you have a partner or access to donor sperm, you may wish to freeze embryos (fertilised eggs) for future use. This process can also be fast-tracked for patients who need urgent medical treatment.

Ovarian tissue freezing

Removing ovarian tissue for freezing is a relatively new technique. When you’re ready, the tissue is grafted back into your pelvis and may be able to begin producing mature eggs. You can then get pregnant through a modified IVF treatment.

Taking fertility-protecting medications

You can take some medications during chemotherapy or radiotherapy to help reduce damage to the ovaries. Your oncologist and fertility specialist will work together to find the best options for you.

Preserving male fertility

Freezing sperm is an option for men who want to preserve their fertility. Sperm can be stored for long periods of time and then thawed for an insemination or IVF technique.

Freezing sperm might be an option if:

• you’re about to start chemotherapy or radiotherapy that may impair fertility*
• you have a very low sperm count that might fall to zero over time
• you’re about to have a surgery or a vasectomy
• you are considering undergoing gender-affirming intervention
• you’re completing IUI or IVF treatment and can’t produce fresh samples during treatment.

If you have a medical issue, such as cancer, that requires chemotherapy or radiotherapy, it’s important to talk to your oncologist and fertility specialist about the best fertility preservation options for you.

Freezing your sperm

Producing your sperm sample

Before producing your sample, we recommend you don’t have sex or ejaculate for at least 2 days, but no more than 7 days. Your sample is collected via masturbation at home or in a private room at the clinic.

If you’re producing your sample at home, it’s important the sample is brought to OUR Labs within 1 hour. You should keep the sample as close to body temperature as possible, in a pocket close to your body.

Preserving fertility by freezing embryos

If you’re in a relationship, freezing embryos for future use may be an option.

Embryo freezing involves completing an IVF treatment cycle and freezing the embryos. Frozen embryos can be stored for 5 years (with extensions available).

It’s important you discuss all your options, including embryo freezing, with your oncologist, fertility specialist and our counsellors. When embryos are created, both partners own those embryos and need to make decisions together about what happens to them. If a relationship breaks down, this could mean either or both partners lose access to the embryos.

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