Egg Freezing before Cancer Treatment
At Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, PC, our fertility doctors offer a range of treatments to assist individuals who are struggling to conceive. However, our procedures are not just limited to infertility issues. We also provide services that assist people in the Omaha, NE, area with family planning and fertility preservation.
Egg freezing preserves eggs while they are young and healthy, so that women can ensure future fertility. There are many reasons to consider egg freezing, but one common reason is forthcoming cancer treatment. Egg freezing before cancer treatment allows women to save eggs before their fertility is potentially compromised.
How Does Cancer Treatment Compromise Fertility?
Each patient’s cancer treatment plan is unique, depending largely on the type of cancer that is present, and how far the cancer has progressed. But whether a patient requires surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation to treat cancer, it is possible that their fertility will be compromised.
- Surgical treatment - If cancer is affecting the reproductive system, surgery may be the best treatment option. If any part of the reproductive system is removed, it can become difficult or impossible for a woman to conceive and/or carry a pregnancy. Even tumor removal may result in scar tissue that compromises fertility.
- Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is a common form of cancer treatment. During treatment, medication is administered through the bloodstream. The medication is meant to kill cancer cells, but it can kill other cells as well. The health and quality of a woman’s eggs can be impacted by chemotherapy.
- Radiation - During radiation, high-energy rays are directed at cancer cells to destroy them. Although treatment is targeted, surrounding cells can also be damaged. If parts of the reproductive system are being treated, the ovaries and eggs could be affected.
Prior to cancer treatment, women should speak to their oncologist to get an understanding of how treatment may affect their fertility. If fertility is at risk and women want the chance to conceive once they have recovered from cancer, egg freezing is likely the best option.
The Egg Freezing Process
Before beginning the egg freezing process for our Omaha patients, we will administer a series of tests to evaluate the woman’s ovarian reserve. Through these tests we can determine how many eggs are available for harvesting, as well as the quality of these eggs. As long as a woman has a good ovarian reserve, we can proceed with treatment.
To start the egg freezing process, women will take a combination of birth control pills and hormone injections for up to four weeks. These medications temporarily halt the body’s hormone production. When that cycle of medication is complete, patients undergo a two-week round of hormone injections. Injections stimulate the ovaries and promote the production of multiple mature follicles, or eggs. When eggs are mature, a final shot will be given to trigger their release.
Released eggs are harvested from the uterus. This procedure is performed while patients are sedated, so they remain completely comfortable throughout. Using ultrasound technology we guide a thin needle through the vagina and into the uterus. Eggs are suctioned into the needle for collection.
Collected eggs are immediately flash frozen. The freezing process protects the eggs from damage and preserves them in their current state. Once frozen, eggs should retain their integrity for up to 10 years, so they can be used for future in vitro fertilization cycles.
Contact Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, PC
If you would like more information about the egg freezing process, the fertility specialists at Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, PC would be happy to answer any questions you may have. To get in touch with our doctors, send us a message online, or call our Omaha clinic at (402) 717-4200.