Although men can easily have children into their 40s, or even 50s, women have a more difficult time conceiving as they age. Throughout their lives, men continuously produce sperm, but women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. For a woman, fertility peaks in her 20s. By age 30, fertility starts to decline, with it dropping even more significantly after age 35.
Because many women want both a career and a family, they may have a hard time balancing these choices. Watching celebrities like Kelly Preston or Nicole Kidman give birth later in life has helped foster the unrealistic idea that anything is possible. Usually, women who wait until their mid-to late-30s to start families face a long road of infertility treatments. Fertility preservation, however, allows women to successfully accomplish their competing goals.
Until recently, women had limited options for preserving their fertility. While men could easily freeze sperm, the female egg didn’t respond will to the thawing process, so the only choice was to fertilize the egg and freeze embryos. For younger women or those without partners, that scenario wasn’t always practical.
Vitrification, a new, fast-freezing process, has made oocyte cryopreservation, or egg freezing, possible. With vitrification, Dr. James Douglas can enable healthy women under to freeze their eggs for use months or years down the road. Egg freezing involves several steps.
First, you will undergo testing to check your ovarian reserve levels. If the results are positive, you can proceed to the egg recovery and freezing process. During the next phase of the process, you will take hormones to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs during ovulation. You will visit the fertility clinic regularly during stimulation so that Dr. Douglas can monitor your progress.
For the retrieval, Dr. Douglas will use an ultrasound as a guide so that he can collect the eggs. At this point, the eggs are washed and prepared for freezing. The embryologist will quickly insert the eggs into liquid nitrogen, quickly cooling them down while preserving the egg’s structure. Once you are ready to use your eggs to start a family, they can be thawed and combined with sperm for fertilization and later transferred back as embryos through the IVF process.
Though egg freezing is relatively new, hundreds of healthy babies have been born from frozen eggs. This latest advance in assisted reproductive technology (ART) enables women to have more control over the timetables in which they begin their families.
To learn more about egg freezing, contact our office and schedule a consultation with Dr. Douglas or visit www.ivfplano.com