The importance of educating cancer patients about fertility preservation options has been in the news quite a bit lately, with worries that young men and women aren't getting the information they need about options such as egg freezing or sperm freezing, along with referrals to fertility doctors for care. For example, research has shown that only half of women under 40 diagnosed with breast cancer felt they had adequately discussed fertility preservation options before treatment.
Until recently, standard cancer treatments have not included female fertility preservation as a joint concern. If cancer was discovered, regardless of the patient's age, it was treated as quickly and as aggressively as deemed necessary (chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation being the primary tools), and that was that; fertility was not generally a part of the conversation. But as awareness grows about the potential effects of treatments on female fertility, and as fertility-preservation techniques become more sophisticated, these discussions are changing.
Some bosses offer dating tips. Diane Sawyer counsels her colleagues on freezing their eggs. The anchor of ABC’s World News has long been a sounding board for her famously hard-working staff on a host of personal issues, from dating to the more complex realities of a demanding career. A recurring theme with women: finding time away from the office to meet a partner and have kids before they hit 40. It doesn’t always happen, as Sawyer, who first married at age 42, well knows. When it doesn’t, Sawyer sends her workers to New York University’s Fertility Clinic.
Monday begins the year of the dragon, considered the luckiest of the Chinese lunar years. Some Chinese and Chinese-Americans are so committed to welcoming a child this year that they are getting fertility treatments to boost their chances. Evie Jeang, a 34-year-old Los Angeles lawyer, and her husband, Vincent Chen, 40, are one such couple. Ms. Jeang doesn't have known fertility issues but froze her eggs two years ago as "insurance" since she wasn't ready to have a child yet. The couple is now trying in-vitro fertilization to try to ensure they have a dragon baby.
Female cancer survivors express their frustrations in new study
Young female cancer survivors are concerned about their future fertility and want better information and guidance about fertility preservation options, according to a new study published online the Journal of Cancer Survivorship
In Orange County, California, nearly 70 families and their healthy frozen egg babies came together in October for the first reunion of babies born from frozen eggs. The reunion, hosted by David Diaz, M.D., medical director of West Coast Fertility Centers and Frozen Egg Bank Inc., celebrated the promise of hope in egg freezing technology.
Cadyn (pictured above) was the oldest child in the group at the reunion and had just celebrated her sixth birthday. She is the first frozen egg baby born in California, and the bright and thriving little red head enjoyed her role at the party as the "big sister" to the younger children.
The first successful birth from a frozen egg occurred in 1986. To date, there have been more than 1,000 healthy babies born worldwide from frozen eggs and about 400 in the United States. Most of the live births from frozen eggs have occurred in during the past six years. Since then, major improvements have been made in the egg freezing process, laboratory techniques and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Diana Thomas of Phoenix, Ariz., sits with two of her three sons as she recalls the heartbreak of infertility. “I actually went and advertised at ASU for women to be my donor,” said Thomas. She said it was something doctors didn't know much about, but she found that, after her success, the doctors were calling her. From that, she started the "first egg bank in the world' — The World Egg Bank in Phoenix. “It's like a sperm bank,” she explained.
A 31-year-old woman from Kansas City, Missouri, has become the first woman in Kansas or the Kansas City area to have her eggs frozen in a rare procedure, then later have the eggs thawed and fertilized, resulting in a pregnancy.
Elective egg freezing is a technology that has come a long way and holds great future promise for women who want to preserve their fertility and/or need to delay childbearing for social or medical reasons. However, technology hasn't been able to make older eggs young again ... yet. And women who wait too long to explore egg freezing as an option for fertility preservation have less success at achieving a pregnancy.
Eggs Frozen when a Woman Is Older Less Likely to Result in Pregnancy
Research presented at the annual meeting for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (2011) highlighted the problem of women waiting too long before deciding to freeze their eggs. A team from Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York (RMA) found that most women interested in freezing their eggs waited until they were in their mid-to-late thirties (37 to 39), a time when they are already experiencing the natural decline of their fertility. The scientists analyzed raw data from 26 studies conducted between 1986 and 2010 that reported on IVF/ICSI pregnancies from mature frozen eggs. The analysis included 1,990 cycles using eggs frozen with a slow-freezing protocol and 291 cycles using vitrified eggs.
Single women who have their eggs frozen so they can put off having a family till later in life may be delaying the procedure too long, fertility specialists warn. Freezing offers women the chance to store their eggs while they are still in good condition, but many wait until their late 30s, when the quality of their eggs has started to decline, scientists found. They said women who had their eggs frozen for non-medical reasons were typically aged 37 to 39; however, flaws that accumulate in eggs over time lead to a rapid decrease in fertility over the age of 35.