by Jennifer Retter
Dr. Sarah Beers struggled with getting pregnant. The physician turned to fellow doctors, searching out one of the most prestigious reproductive agencies at the Center for Assisted Reproduction (CARE) to try out a new procedure: frozen egg technology.
In the past, doctors froze sperm and embryos for assisted reproduction, but freezing eggs is a whole different challenge. In fact, until the CARE team perfected the use of frozen eggs in their first attempt for Dr. Beers’ pregnancy, the idea of a frozen “egg bank” had not been achieved by CARE for donation purposes.
Cryopreservation, the freezing of eggs, has allowed CARE to store more than 100 eggs for infertility patients in the North Texas region. These eggs will assist women searching for egg donors as well as women who want to save their own eggs before facing chemotherapy, which can cause ovarian difficulties and limit fertility.
Not only does egg freezing assist women in need of eggs now, but it provides flexibility for young women who want to put off starting a family. Women have the option to freeze their eggs and store them for later. For example, a 23-year-old can freeze her eggs to use again when she wants a child later. This way, she will not have to worry about illnesses destroying eggs or face many of the risks associated with pregnancy later in life.
Fertility Specialists of Texas, with locations in Dallas and Frisco, also offers cryopreservation as a new procedure geared toward younger women. The clinic issues a series of medications to women to help ovaries produce more eggs. Once eggs develop and are ready to be taken out, women are put under an anesthetic for a brief procedure to remove between 10 and 20 eggs. Following retraction, eggs are immediately frozen using vitrification, a technique that preserves eggs in their current state. When a woman is ready for pregnancy, the egg is “thawed” and remains in the same healthy, young state as it is transferred into the uterus.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, cryopreservation is still in the experimental stage since the process is so new. Texas Health Assisted Reproduction Technology Services (ARTS), with locations in Dallas, Plano and Fort Worth, report a success rate of more than 80 percent. ARTS encourages women and men to go through extensive testing to determine the cause of infertility before freezing eggs.
For the first CARE mother, egg-freezing technology made all the difference. Beers is expecting her child in July.
Interested in being a part of the system? There are four ways to participate:
1. Donor If you are a healthy woman under the age of 32 with an interest in creating life for another couple, consider donating your eggs. Health records and testing determine who may be a potential donor. Through CARE, women can donate through six egg cycles. Financial compensation is included. Visit donoregginfo.com, a site within CARE North Texas’s network.
2. Surrogate Mother Women who wish to carry a baby for another women must pass several health exams. Contact CARE at 817.924.1572 or visit embryo.net for additional information.
3. Mother Does this article pertain directly to you? If you’ve struggled with other forms of lab pregnancy, such as in vitro fertilization, you may be a candidate for egg freezing technology. Follow in Beers’ footsteps and talk to your doctor about receiving a frozen donor egg.
4. Men Men can also donate sperm to a third party for assisted reproduction or freeze sperm before undergoing chemotherapy through CARE.