A woman’s fertility is at its highest in her twenties, but for many women having a baby at this stage of life is not an option, and many are now planning to start families in their late 30s. It can get harder to conceive as a woman gets older; her chances of miscarriage also increase. This is because the number and quality of the eggs in the ovaries declines rapidly after about 35 years of age.
Here at TFP Boston Place Fertility, we offer fertility preservation. Women go through the IVF stimulation and egg collection processes, but instead of being mixed with sperm, the unfertilised eggs are frozen.
‘Vitrification’ technology is relatively new but the results are encouraging, such that units around the world are achieving similar pregnancy rates using frozen (vitrified) mature eggs compared with fresh eggs. The number of babies born following these procedures is increasing all the time. We are proud to be among the few clinics in the UK with several live births from this technique.
Putting your fertility on ice is very similar to the start of a standard IVF cycle. It involves a course of daily fertility drug injections for approximately 2 weeks followed by a procedure to remove the eggs.
The eggs are then carefully vitrified and put into store in liquid nitrogen at -196°C. They can be kept under these conditions without deteriorating for an indeterminate length of time.
When you decide that it is time to use these eggs, they will be thawed at the appropriate time of your menstrual cycle and inseminated with a single sperm using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The cells are then placed in an incubator so that fertilisation can take place.
All being well, one or two successfully developed embryos will be transferred to your womb a few days later.
Freezing sperm is the most effective way of preserving fertility. This can be done on more than one occasion if time permits.