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Fertility Preservation: Taking Control Over Your Reproductive Future

Earlier this year, Dr. Meera Shah took time to connect with the Stanford Cardiology Residents & Fellows. She led an engaging discussion with the group about fertility preservation and the importance of taking control of your reproductive future. 

Whether you are a busy cardiology resident, a successful business manager, or just not ready to start your family today, it’s important to consider your reproductive future and what that looks like for you. 

Everyone has a different idea of what their future family will look like, but Dr. Shah has broken down the process of egg freezing to preserve your fertility for future family building. 

Egg Freezing for Fertility Preservation at a Glance

Since 2012 the ASRM has viewed egg freezing as a reliable way of preserving your future fertility with the incredible advancements made in cryopreservation techniques. 

During your initial consultation, your doctor will review all of your options and will often do an ultrasound and some blood tests to assess the reserve of the ovaries. This ovarian reserve testing is performed by doing a blood test to evaluate the AMH level (anti-mullerian hormone) and the AFC (antral follicle count by ultrasound). This combination helps to determine your future fertility potential. 

Ideal candidates for egg freezing are women who are between the ages of 28 and 34, but that doesn’t mean you can’t freeze eggs outside of this window. There are women who freeze their eggs later in their 30s and even in their mid-20s depending on their personal desire and the potential family size they would like to have. 

For women under age 35, it’s recommended to get at least 10-20 eggs to freeze to have a 70-90% chance of having one child, and if you’re 35 and over the recommendation increases to 20-30. Your egg quality declines over time and women approaching age 40 may need to have 35-65 eggs to have the same probability of having a child as a woman under age 35.

Egg Freezing Process

The process of freezing eggs can be done relatively quickly for those looking to start and is easier than you may expect. 

At your initial consultation, your doctor will review your health and go over your family-building goals. With this information, they can walk you through your options and what the next steps look like. 

The process of egg freezing includes ovarian stimulation. This is done by patients self-administering hormone injections for about 9-12 days. During this time the patient will be evaluated with pelvic ultrasounds and hormone blood tests regularly. Adjustments will be made depending on a patient’s response. 

The egg retrieval will be performed after the follicles have reached their mature size. It is done by using the pelvic ultrasound with a needle guide and typically is performed in under 5 minutes. Patients receive safe anesthesia and are very comfortable during the entire procedure. 

The entire process of egg freezing is safe, with minimal side effects, and patients experience a quick recovery once the eggs have been harvested. 

Upsides to Freezing Your Eggs

There are many upsides to freezing your eggs. The process itself is safe and effective, which can be reassuring and offer peace of mind for building your family in the future. 

By initiating the process of freezing your eggs, it also allows you to take control of your future fertility and have no regrets about waiting “too long”. Egg freezing also reduces the chances of needing to consider oocyte donation in the future. 

Of course, eggs could be used to help you achieve your first pregnancy but they may also be used in the future for a second or third child to reduce the risk of chromosomal abnormalities that are more frequent with advanced maternal age.

The downside of Freezing Your Eggs

The cost of egg freezing is not usually covered by insurance, so it’s important to keep the cost factor in mind as each cycle can cost $10,000+ in addition to a small annual storage fee. 

It’s also important to note that while the process of egg freezing is relatively easy, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a time commitment with all of the appointments and minimal downtime for the egg retrieval and while side effects are minimal, they can occur. 

The last thing to consider is that there is a possibility you may never use your frozen eggs and there are no guarantees in the process. 

Weighing Your Decision to Freeze Your Eggs

Scheduling your first consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist is a great way to learn more about the egg freezing process and if it’s right for you. 

It’s key to weigh all the pros and cons and determine what is the most important factor in making your decision. 

Egg freezing is a safe and effective way to significantly increase the chances of having a biological child in the future and the younger the age at the time of egg/embryo freezing, the higher the chances of success and the higher the chance for a healthy baby. 

Remember that it’s a safe and well-tolerated process that can be done in a short amount of time to help you plan for your future fertility today.

Consider Your Next Steps:

Dr. Shah and Dr. Schmidt offer an initial zoom consultation to help learn more about the process and what the next steps would look like for you. The consultation fee will be applied towards your treatment if you decide to move forward with NOVA IVF. Our clinic is conveniently located in Mountain View near the El Camino Hospital and we offer flexibility in scheduling treatment around your busy schedule.

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