Written by Dr Irfana Koita for Doctify
Some people will grow up, meet the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with and then have children. For others, life may not be so straight forward. Luckily, there are now several ways to prolong fertility available to those who wish to delay having kids or simply keep their options open.
Here to tell us more is fertility expert, Dr Irfana Koita.
What are the fertility preservation options?
If you want to delay child bearing due for either social or medical reasons, egg freezing is the procedure of choice. The procedure involves administering injections to stimulate the ovaries for around 12 days. Following this, the eggs are collected under sedation. The egg collection is a relatively non-invasive procedure, and carries minimal risks. Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome is a low risk of complication that has been associated with the stimulation of the ovaries.
You can freeze sperm for future use either in artificial insemination, other fertility treatments, or for donation. You may want to consider freezing your sperm if (i) you have a condition; (ii) you are facing medical treatment for a condition that may affect your fertility; (iii) you have a low sperm count; (iv) the quality of your sperm is deteriorating; or (v) if you have difficulty producing a sample on the day of fertility treatment.
A cycle of IVF treatment may produce a number of successfully fertilised embryos which you can store for your future use. The embryos need to be of good quality as poor quality embryos do not survive the freezing/defrosting process. Embryos can be frozen at various stages between the cleavage stage (day 2) to the blastocyst stage (day 5 or 6). They can be stored for up to ten years in the first instance.
A frozen embryo transfer gives you another chance of a pregnancy from the initial egg collection with a much reduced cost and without having to go through the egg collection procedure again. You may be given some drugs to help build up the lining of the womb or you may have the embryos put back in a natural cycle. You will be required to undergo ultrasound scans to determine whether you are ready for the transfer. At this time, the embryologist will warm the embryos. The embryo is transferred under ultrasound guidance using a soft catheter. Very occasionally, embryos may not survive the freezing/defrosting process.
What about testicular tissue freezing or surgical sperm retrieval?
For men with no sperm in their semen (e.g., those who have had a vasectomy and later decide they want children), or for men who cannot ejaculate (e.g., men with spinal cord injuries), it is necessary to extract sperm surgically in order to fertilise eggs during IVF. Sperm obtained using any of these procedures will usually have poor movement and will need to be directly injected into each egg. This process is known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
The three different methods of sperm extraction are:
- Micro-epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA)
- Percuateous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA)
- Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
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If anything mentioned here has affected you and you want to know more, you can book an appointment with Dr Koita by clicking below.