Today, more and more people are choosing to cryopreserve their oocytes, sperm, or embryos for the purpose of preserving fertility. At CARE for the Bay Area, we are proud to offer our patients the most advanced equipment and technology to meet the growing need for fertility preservation. We are happy to offer fertility preservation services to our patients who would like to have a family, but aren’t quite ready to begin that chapter in their lives.
Additionally, we are proud to be able to provide patients with the option to freeze eggs, sperm, or embryos prior to cancer treatment. While the options for patients battling cancer are effective at fighting the disease, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation have unfortunate side effects including the loss of fertility or early menopause. The use of fertility preservation may allow our patients to maintain their ability to create families of their own in the future.
In order to uphold tissue safety, all oocytes, sperm, and embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen tanks which are electronically monitored 24 hours a day by a state-of-the-art alarm system. The CARE tissue bank is licensed and inspected by the State of California.
Following are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Question: Who can benefit from fertility preservation?
Answer: There are several scenarios in which patients can benefit from oocyte, sperm, or embryo cryopreservation:
Patients who want to freeze oocytes or embryos for future use. This applies to women who would like to postpone childbearing while they pursue other avenues including education or careers.
Prior to cancer treatment. Since chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be toxic to eggs and sperm, egg, sperm, or embryo freezing should occur before treatment begins. Following completion of cancer treatment, eggs can be thawed, fertilized and transferred back to the uterus as embryos.
When freezing embryos at the completion of an IVF cycle is not an option, due to religious or other personal reasons. For these patients, we are pleased to offer the option of freezing eggs immediately after retrieval. This course of treatment allows for a small number of embryos to be created and used in the current cycle, while maintaining additional eggs for future use.
Question:What can I expect during my fertility preservation cycle?
Answer: The treatment is the same as for a traditional IVF cycle. Eggs are frozen a few hours after the egg retrieval, whereas embryos are frozen after 3 days (cleavage stage) or 5 days (blastocyst stage). At CARE for the Bay Area, eggs and embryos are cryopreserved by the vitrification method. In our experience, freezing by the vitrification method gives a higher survival rate at the time the eggs or embryos are thawed.
Question: What is the thaw survival rate?
Answer: At CARE for the Bay Area, the survival rate after thawing (also called warming) is approximately 94%. This applies to oocytes as well as all stages of embryo development, including cleavage and blastocyst stage embryos.
Question: How long can my eggs/embryos be stored in liquid nitrogen?
Answer: Indefinitely. Currently, eggs and embryos have been thawed and used in treatment cycles after storage for many years in liquid nitrogen. As technology advances, the time that eggs and embryos can be stored for patient use increases.