GIVF eNews

November 2012 eNews

Egg Freezing Joins the Mainstream
By Andrew Dorfmann, MS, ELD

Oocyte Cryopreservation, more commonly referred to as Egg Freezing, has been an exciting and rapidly developing area of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) over the past decade or so. Once considered an intractable problem, successful freezing and subsequent thawing of eggs have dramatically improved, thanks to better technology and extensive research.

A report issued recently by the Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) said that in young patients, egg freezing techniques have produced pregnancy rates, leading to the births of healthy babies, comparable to IVF cycles using fresh eggs. ASRM has removed the "experimental" label from oocyte freezing, at least for younger women and egg donors; although ASRM does caution that pregnancy rates will likely be lower when eggs from older women are frozen, just as pregnancy rates using eggs from older women are lower in fresh cycles.

Here at the Genetics & IVF Institute, we pioneered the effort to bring successful egg freezing technology to our patients. Our work contributed to the development of this technology academically and at a very personal level for many of our own patients. We began our Institutional Research Board (IRB) controlled study nearly eight years ago. Now that the ASRM Practice Committee has removed the "experimental" designation, we will be winding down our own study and making this technology what we have long believed it should be: a routine part of our clinical practice.

We were the first fertility treatment center in the Mid-Atlantic region and among the very first in the country to offer elective oocyte cryopreservation and also to announce the launch of a frozen donor egg bank (Fairfax Egg Bank™). We have already created well over fifty pregnancies by using frozen donor egg technology and are among the leaders in the United States. Gradually and methodically, we are transforming our practice to include frozen eggs as a real alternative to our fresh donor egg program. We believe that, in time, the convenience and ready availability of frozen donor eggs will make them the most effective and popular way to use donor eggs. Improved egg freezing and thawing is providing other benefits for patients, too. In addition to freezing donor oocytes, we provide fertility preservation services for young women who are faced with cancer or other treatments which, while life-saving, may render them infertile. We also offer young women a Personal Egg Banking™ (PEB) program that allows them to manage their own reproductive lives by "banking" their eggs for use later in life when they are ready to start a family.

We agree with and applaud the conclusion of the ASRM Practice Committee -- in the right hands, egg freezing has been shown to be a safe and effective method of family building and should no longer be considered to be "experimental." We are proud that we helped pave the way for this decision by being an innovator and early adopter of this technology. This is an exciting development in the world of Assisted Reproduction and GIVF, as is our heritage, was among the leaders in bringing this technology to fruition and making it available to our patients. For more information about frozen donor eggs, Personal Egg Banking or fertility preservation, please call 800.552.4363.

Andrew Dorfmann, MS, ELD is the Director of the Embryology Laboratory at the Genetics & IVF Institute.

What's New at GIVF:

  • Dr. Harvey J. Stern named Associate Editor for Human Reproduction
    We are very proud to announce that Harvey J. Stern, MD, PhD, FACMG, FAAP, Medical Director of Reproductive Genetics, has achieved the distinguished honor of being named Associate Editor for Human Reproduction, an Oxford Journal. Human Reproduction is one of the leading international peer-reviewed medical journals in the field of reproductive medicine.

  • GIVF physicians named to The Washington Post's "Super Doctors" list
    Congratulations to Drs. Stephen R. Lincoln, Sunita Kulshrestha, Laurence C. Udoff, and Donald P. Marazzo, who were recently named to the 2012 Super Doctors list in The Washington Post in the category of reproductive endocrinology.

  • More benefits from our SALUTE program
    In honor of Veterans Day, we are highlighting exciting new additions to SALUTE, our long-standing military discount program. In addition to 25% off on single cycles and 5% off on Multicycle and Donor Egg IVF services, we now are also offering 5% off on IUI packages and 25% off on testing not covered by insurance. We are proud to provide these discounts to the men and women who serve our country with distinction. Please visit our Financial Programs page for the complete SALUTE program details.

National Adoption Month
Which Choice: Adoption and Donor Egg Options for Family Building

By Phyllis Martin, LPC

There may be many forks and crossroads on your family building path. The first fork is deciding whether or not to proceed with treatment using assisted reproductive medicine. If you proceed, you must then choose where to go for treatment. For some people, the path takes a turn when a certain ART process has not worked or cannot work and intended mothers then have to consider having a child who does not share their genes.

It is common for patients to come to me with the very real dilemma of choosing between using Donor Egg IVF or adoption. Although it can be heart-breaking to let go of genetic ties to your child, it is rewarding to move forward in your family building journey.

People deciding what path to take must consider many things as they choose among their options. I often start by helping patients to become truly educated about each process.

Although Donor Egg IVF and adoption often are compared to each other and comments about Donor Egg IVF being the "same as adoption" or "adopting an egg" abound, they actually are quite different (see comparison chart below). After acknowledging that both choices mean the intended mother will not be genetically related to her child and that in both cases there likely is grief work to be done because of that loss, they differ markedly. Patients should be well informed before making a choice based on rumor, hearsay, social gossip or a headline they read somewhere. Often these sources are fear-based and strongly weighted against one of these options due to an extreme, personal story of one family where things went very wrong.

Following are some of the tips I give my patients:

  • Ensure that you use reputable resources both on-line and in person. Adoption agencies and fertility clinics welcome people for information sessions and consultations.
  • Talking to people who have adopted or have used a donor often is very helpful. RESOLVE and A Family of My Own are resources that offer seminars, conferences and the opportunity to meet families that have been built either via Donor Egg IVF or adoption (and sometimes by both!). Support groups and counselors also are helpful during this time.
  • After getting better informed, make a pro/con list for each choice. On the list, include costs, timelines, and things that are important to you, such as experiencing pregnancy, controlling the prenatal experience, a male partner being genetically linked to the child, or helping a child find a home. The more honest you are with yourself and your partner, the more comfortable you will be deciding which route to take.

As patients do their research and replace fears with facts and sorrow with hope, they often develop a "gut" feeling about which option is better for them.

The good news is that even if you have been told that your eggs are not viable, you still have excellent options for family building. The choices you now face are choices that can get you back on the road to parenting. And parenting is much more than sharing the same genetics.

  Donor Egg IVF Adoption
Experience pregnancy Yes No
Control prenatal care Yes No, but may influence
Male partner genetically related to child In most cases No
Extensive knowledge of genetic, social history, health history of biological
Yes Possible
Legal action required No Yes
Able to control timeframes Yes Sometimes

The Genetics & IVF Institute (GIVF) regularly publishes an informative newsletter featuring the latest infertility news and developments. The newsletter is sent electronically via email. To subscribe, click here.