There are a number of reasons why an individual may want or need to delay starting their family. Fertility preservation offers an opportunity for those individuals to freeze eggs, sperm, or embryos with the intent of having biological children in the future. Certain diseases and disorders may result in lengthy treatments that require postponing conception. Cancer treatments may damage reproductive organs and/or gametes. Life circumstances may also make it more ideal to delay building a family. In 2013, Utah Fertility Center was the first Utah center to help a patient achieve pregnancy using a frozen egg and has since helped numerous families reach their reproductive goals through fertility preservation.
The biological clock in women plays a particularly important role in fertility. As a woman ages, her eggs become less likely to be fertilized and grow into healthy embryos. A woman may choose to freeze her eggs due to family history of premature ovarian failure, severe endometriosis, or recurrent ovarian cysts. Cancer treatment may also compromise a woman’s fertility. Sometimes the timing of meeting the right partner just is not right. The newer method of freezing eggs, called vitrification or “flash freezing”, gives women a very realistic option of preserving eggs for future use. No matter what the reason, fertility preservation relieves some of the pressure of the biologic clock and helps keep options open for future family building.
Sperm banking is the specialized cryopreservation and cryogenic storage of sperm for future use in reproduction. Utah Fertility Center banks sperm for individuals who intend to use the sperm for their own reproductive purposes. Men diagnosed with cancer whose treatment may compromise fertility may bank sperm prior to treatments. Other circumstances a man might want to bank sperm is prior to having a vasectomy, and for men working in occupations at “high risk” for testicular injury. Oftentimes, couples undergoing in vitro fertilization will freeze sperm for backup during their cycle.
This method, also called embryo freezing, has traditionally been the gold standard for fertility preservation. Embryos are created in a laboratory through the process of in vitro fertilization. Eggs are retrieved and fertilized with sperm from a partner or donor. Once fertilized, embryos are grown in culture for five days. Once they reach a stage in development called the “blastocyst stage”, they are frozen for future use. With the newer freezing methods, 95% of these embryos will survive the thawing process. When using these frozen embryos even many years later, pregnancy rates are now as high as when using fresh embryos.
For more information on our options for fertility preservation in Murray, Pleasant Grove, Ogden, Park City and St. George, Utah, please contact us at 801-785-5100 to make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable Reproductive Endocrinologists. We look forward to hearing from you!