Freezing Eggs, Sperm And Time
Cryopreservation is a process where biological material, such as sperm and eggs, are frozen for future use. There are many reasons a person may want to freeze eggs or sperm to use for pregnancy months or years later. Although each case is unique, 3 main reasons for cryopreservation include age, cancer treatment, and medical conditions affecting fertility.
1. Older age
My biological clock is ticking is a phrase muttered by many women as the years go on. As a woman ages, the number of eggs slowly decreases, and by age 30, fertility starts to decline. After 35, the decrease is even more substantial, and by 45, pregnancy is quite unlikely. This means that without intervention, women who spend the 30s building a career or looking for the right partner have a lower chance of pregnancy occurring when the time is right. To circumvent this problem, egg freezing can help. By freezing the eggs at a younger age, fertility is paused at that moment in time. Women can continue living life knowing eggs are stored for future use.
2. Cancer treatment
Although no one wants to receive a cancer diagnosis, an estimated 85,980 people ages 15-39 will get cancer every year. In many cases, cancer treatment can be lengthy, often requiring a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and hormone therapy. Some medicines can affect fertility in men and women, so proactive action ahead of treatment is essential for people who desire a family later in life. Men undergoing cancer treatment have the option to freeze sperm for future use. Women typically need to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), where medication will be used to try to produce multiple eggs in a single cycle. The eggs can then be frozen, either alone or in combination with a partner’s sperm, for future use.
3. Medical conditions
A variety of health conditions can affect fertility. Diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders, endometriosis, and hyperprolactinemia can all make pregnancy more difficult. Although natural pregnancy isn’t out of the question entirely, many women want the peace of mind that cryopreservation can offer while attempting to get the medical condition under control. Additionally, certain medications necessary to treat the conditions could affect fertility or increase the risk of miscarriage or birth defects. Freezing eggs or sperm is a great way to delay pregnancy until the patient is healthy and ready to carry a baby.
What happens after freezing?
Once the eggs or sperm are safely in the fertility freezer, patients can rest assured that fertility has been effectively paused. The clinic will store the specimen until the patient is mentally and physically ready to pursue a pregnancy. People who need to start cancer treatment, treat a medical condition, or return to a demanding career can breathe easy knowing the clock is no longer ticking.
The right time
Cryopreservation is no longer a taboo topic, with many companies now offering the benefit to employees. The simple procedure is a quick way to increase the chances of a future pregnancy when the time is right. Men and women interested in freezing eggs or sperm should talk to a healthcare provider to determine if cryopreservation is the right choice.