Female Fertility Preservation

Many young women face medical conditions or treatments, such as chemotherapy, that can impact their fertility. Medical fertility preservation aims to protect fertility, giving women the chance to fall pregnant in the future, once they have undergone treatment.

Options available for female fertility preservation through Queensland Fertility Group include freezing eggs, embryos or ovarian tissue.

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What is egg freezing?

Egg freezing, or cryopreservation, is a method of storing a woman’s unfertilised eggs in a frozen state, with a view to them being thawed at a later date and fertilised with sperm to create a pregnancy.

Eggs can be stored for many years, giving a woman suffering from a medical condition the freedom to complete treatment before starting a family.

What is the egg freezing process?

The ovaries are artificially stimulated with a course of hormone injections, encouraging the production of multiple oocytes (eggs). These eggs are then removed in a minor surgical procedure and frozen for storage.

When a woman is ready to use her frozen eggs, they are thawed and then fertilised with sperm, either from a partner or a donor. A healthy fertilised egg will develop into an embryo, which is then transferred to the woman’s uterus, with the aim of developing into a successful pregnancy.

What are the success rates for egg freezing?

As the technique for egg freezing is relatively new, it is not possible to give precise figures for the chance of pregnancy after freezing.

Other factors, especially the woman’s age when her eggs are frozen, have an important effect on the chance of pregnancy: the younger the woman, the better the chance. Egg freezing in women over the age of 37 – 38 is expected to have a lower chance of pregnancy.

What is embryo freezing?

Another option available to preserve fertility, is to undergo IVF treatment before undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and freeze any resulting embryos for future pregnancy attempts – even years later.

Embryos tolerate freezing considerably better than ovarian tissue or egg freezing, so subsequent embryo survival and the chance of a pregnancy is much higher. Pregnancy success rates can depend on the age of a woman’s eggs at the time of IVF treatment. We recommend freezing several embryos, if possible, to factor in current survival and development rates.

What is ovarian tissue freezing?

This involves removing and freezing a small piece of tissue from one ovary. When a woman is ready to conceive, the ovarian tissue slices are grafted surgically back into the pelvis and some months later, the grafted ovarian tissues should begin producing reproductive hormones and follicular development. At this stage, pregnancy may be achieved either with ovarian stimulation and IVF, or perhaps even naturally.

Ovarian tissue freezing is still considered an experimental procedure, and research is ongoing to refine the process before it becomes a routine fertility treatment.

How much does fertility preservation cost?

Costs for freezing eggs, embryos and ovarian tissue will vary depending on each woman’s individual situation, however, Medicare rebates are available when fertility preservation is performed because of a medical reason. For more information of fertility preservation costs, please call 1800 111 483 or contact us below.

To find out more about fertility preservation options, or to book an appointment with a Queensland Fertility Group Specialist, please call 1800 111 483 to speak with an experienced fertility consultant.