Welcome to the Center for Fertility Preservation at Pacific NW Fertility.
We are committed to offering the most advanced fertility preservation options for both men and women. The choice to preserve your fertility may result from a personal decision to delay pregnancy, or perhaps you have been referred to us by your oncologist following a cancer diagnosis. We combine the latest in technology with the right care for your personal needs.
Services & Programs
Egg Freezing is available for patients who wish to delay childbearing for any reason. A cancer diagnosis has historically been the most common motivation for women chose to freeze eggs, but as success rates have improved and costs decreased, many women are now choosing to freeze their eggs as an effective means of postponing childbearing for other reasons. Fertility decreases with age beginning at 30, and by age 40 the chances of spontaneous pregnancy are less than 50% of what they were at age 30. In general, egg freezing is best for women under age 38 who have a reassuring egg supply (ovarian reserve), but every woman is considered as an individual, and patients with low egg supply or a chronic disease like endometriosis may benefit even more from egg freezing.
Embryo banking involves a similar process for fertility preservation for patients who prefer to freeze fertilized eggs (or embryos). This is often the patient or couple that is starting their family at an advanced age (>35) but their family building goal is more than one baby. Since age impacts fertility significantly, many couples will opt to freeze embryos before trying to conceive in order to keep options open for the future. For example, a couple in their late 30s or early forties can cryopreserve embryos now, conceive, then use those embryos for a second baby. Since it’s the age of the eggs and sperm that impact fertility success significantly, but less so the age of the woman conceiving – embryo banking can be a wonderful option.
Sperm freezing may be done for several reasons: cancer patients preparing to undergo radiation or chemotherapy (treatments which potentially destroy sperm production), patients who are electing to have a vasectomy but wish to have sperm stored, and patients who are expecting to be unavailable at the time of insemination and wish to store sperm for their partner’s use. Fertility declines with age, even for men. Fertility potential does not usually decrease as drastically for men compared to women, but older men have fertility issues as well. Many men are freezing sperm at younger ages to keep options open for the future. Ask us about this opportunity for you.
FAQs About Fertility Preservation
Who can benefit from egg freezing?
Egg freezing is an empowering choice for women who are not ready to have children, but who may want that option in the future. Fertility decreases significantly with age, and women who want to store their eggs for later use can improve their chances of a successful pregnancy.
One of the most critical times for egg freezing is in the setting of a cancer diagnosis. Treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy and radiation often damage eggs and result in infertility. Depending on the cancer diagnosis and recommendations from a woman’s oncologists, she may choose to freeze eggs before undergoing cancer treatment in order to preserve her fertility.
Egg freezing may also be used in the setting of a donor egg/recipient IVF cycle. In cases where a woman is unable to conceive with her own eggs, she has the option of using donor eggs. Typically the donor is 21-31 years old and in peak fertility. The traditional method for a donor egg/recipient IVF cycle is to match a recipient with a donor and sync their menstrual cycles with medication so that when the donor’s eggs are ready to be retrieved and fertilized, the recipient’s uterine lining is ready for the resulting embryo(s). This matching and syncing process can take weeks to months, but with frozen egg the donor’s eggs are available and ready whenever the recipient is ready.
There are many other medical reasons to freeze eggs including: severe endometriosis, ovarian surgery, diminished egg supply, prior ovarian cyst, BRCA 1-2 mutation carriers, transgender transition to male, just to name a few. Some patients prefer egg freezing over embryo freezing due to religious or ethical issues with freezing embryos that remain after a traditional IVF cycle. We have more history (over 40 years) and experience with embryo freezing in the field of reproduction, but once an egg is fertilized with sperm, it cannot be unfertilized. Egg freezing keeps more options open for the future.
How does egg freezing work?
The process for egg freezing is similar to a traditional IVF cycle and takes approximately 2 weeks. In these two weeks, a woman takes gonadotropins to stimulate the recruitment of multiple eggs in the ovaries and when the eggs are ready, they are retrieved in a simple procedure called an egg retrieval. Gonadotropin hormones are the same hormones women make every month to recruit one egg and in IVF we are simply giving a higher dose to recruit more than one. Women take the shots subcutaneously (right under the skin) every day (we teach you how to do it) until the egg retrieval. The stimulation part of the cycle is often preceded by 2-3 weeks of birth control pills to prepare the eggs for recruitment but your protocol will be customized to fit your needs. Eggs are retrieved and frozen immediately. Once the woman is ready to conceive, the eggs are thawed and fertilized with sperm. The resulting embryo(s) can be genetically tested and then transferred into her uterus, usually one at a time.
What you should know...
Although egg freezing provides an excellent option for women to take charge of their reproductive potential, the process may not be right for everyone. Freezing eggs is an opportunity but it does not guarantee a baby in the future. Also, the success rates and efficiency of the process are tied to how many eggs you can produce and there is variability between patients. For example, a patient with low egg numbers may have to do more than one stimulation cycle to get an optimal number of eggs frozen. The process should always be carefully considered. It is always a good idea to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist and learn more about what it would look like for you. Sometimes it takes years for a woman to get up the courage to come in and learn more, but in fertility every year counts, so let us help you learn more about your fertility and decide if egg freezing is right for you now.
The first step for those considering fertility preservation is a consultation with a provider at Pacific NW Fertility. A complete medical history is taken as we get to know you as an individual. We discuss age and how chances of pregnancy success change over the fertility window. We discuss testing and the process of IVF. The egg freezing process begins with IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) so that multiple eggs may be produced for freezing. In general, the older you are at the time of egg freezing the lower the chances of pregnancy and the higher number of eggs recommended to freeze. The best predictor of how many eggs can be collected per cycle is the ovarian reserve, measured by both ultrasound and blood work. The ultrasound is often done as part of this initial consultation.