3 options for preserving your fertility
Maybe you aren’t ready to have a baby yet, or maybe a medical diagnosis has you worried about your future fertility. Creighton Likes III, MD, discussed three fertility preservation options that can improve your chances of being able to get pregnant later in life. They all involve freezing and are available for single men, single women or couples to explore.
With this option, sperm is collected and frozen in vials. Usually, there are millions of sperm present in each specimen collected. Typically, one vial equals one attempt to have a baby. With sperm cryopreservation, future options include in-office insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF offers the highest rate of success.
This is egg freezing. After a consultation and tests, medication is taken to ramp up the production of a woman’s eggs. An egg retrieval will then be performed, taking about 20–25 minutes. Each retrieval averages about 10–20 eggs, and the eggs are then frozen. Usually, every 5–6 frozen eggs will equate to about 2–3 embryos in the future.
Given that eggs decrease in number and quality as a woman ages, egg freezing offers an option to preserve eggs at a younger age for use later in life.
This is essentially the same process as the egg retrieval, but it takes an additional step. After the eggs are retrieved, they are injected with sperm. After the embryos develop for a few days, they are frozen. The thaw rate for embryos is about 1 to 1, with most surviving the thaw and being viable for use.
How can you improve your chances of a successful pregnancy?
Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) during the embryo freezing process can help determine which embryos are more likely to lead to a successful pregnancy. This is where embryos are tested via biopsy before they are frozen. The cells examined with a biopsy can tell the chromosome makeup of the embryo allowing you to know which embryos are abnormal. Miscarriage rates can be decreased by not using embryos with chromosomal abnormalities that lead to miscarriages. These abnormalities can increase with a woman’s age.
Currently, there is no limit to the amount of time sperm, eggs or embryos can be frozen.
If you are concerned about your future fertility and want to explore your options now, talk to a fertility specialist.
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