Posts Tagged ‘in vitro’

National Infertility Awareness Week: You Are Not Alone

Infertility Awareness WeekThis week, April 19-25, is National Infertility Awareness Week. At the Emory Reproductive Center, we know well the pain that infertility causes those who are ready to grow their family. Infertility is extremely isolating – it can be difficult to share fertility struggles with friends who seem to conceive easily, or to face family members who continually ask about plans for a baby.

That’s why we’re happy that the theme “You Are Not Alone” has been chosen for this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week. Since infertility is rarely discussed, many people don’t realize just how common the issue is – in fact, infertility impacts 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age. What’s more, people who are unaware of how common infertility is may not realize just how many options we have to treat it.

In the spirit of raising awareness about infertility, we’d like to share some basic facts about this medical condition:

  • We define infertility as the inability to become pregnant after a certain period of time of unprotected intercourse. For women under age 35, that period of time is one year; for women over the age of 35, that period of time is six months. Some patients may have risk factors that make infertility more common, such as endometriosis, and those patients are encouraged to seek assistance before six months or a year has passed.
  • Infertility is not just a female problem – 30 percent of infertility cases are due to a female factor, 30 percent of infertility cases are due to a male factor, and in the rest of the cases, the cause is unknown or may be due to both a male and female issue.
  • We now have more options than ever for treating infertility, including everything from intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization to egg donation and surrogacy. And in vitro fertilization, or IVF, is safer than ever before, with a lower risk of multiple births compared to years earlier.

We take the theme “You Are Not Alone” seriously at Emory – once patients initiate treatment, we put together a team that supports them throughout their entire journey with us. All of our staff members are trained in the special needs of infertility patients, and from that initial work-up to the completion of treatment, we are our patients’ biggest cheerleaders.

In addition to providing our patients with a compassionate and respectful experience, we’re proud to say that our in vitro fertilization program consistently achieves success rates significantly above the national average. It’s extremely fulfilling to know that we have helped so many patients feel less alone by successfully helping them build their families.

RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, has some wonderful resources for men and women seeking more information on infertility, as does the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. We also invite you to visit our website or to call 404-778-3401 to make an appointment and learn more about your options.

About the Emory Reproductive Center

The Emory Reproductive Center, located at Emory University Hospital Midtown, manages a range of conditions that affect reproductive health, including fibroids, endometriosis, abnormal bleeding, recurrent pregnancy loss, premature ovarian insufficiency, polycystic ovary syndrome, male infertility, and genetic disorders.

We offer testing for male and female infertility issues and the latest in assisted reproductive technologies with excellent results – our in vitro fertilization (IVF) program consistently achieves success rates significantly above the national average.

Our fellowship-trained physicians are faculty members at the Emory University School of Medicine. Learn more about our team.

The Truth About Egg Freezing

Pregnant WomanFertility preservation – or, as it’s popularly known, egg freezing — has recently received a burst in media attention. Since the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) endorsed oocyte (egg) cryopreservation (freezing) as no longer experimental in October of 2012, the options for women desiring to delay childbearing have expanded.

Who Should Consider Egg Freezing?

ASRM recommends oocyte cryopreservation for fertility preservation for specific indications, namely to preserve fertility potential prior to gonadotoxic treatment for cancer or other medical conditions, among women at risk for premature ovarian failure, and among women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) who prefer not to freeze embryos. ASRM recommends thorough patient counseling prior to elective cryopreservation to defer childbearing for social reasons and specifically states that “data on the safety, efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and emotional risks of elective oocyte cryopreservation are insufficient to recommend elective oocyte cryopreservation.” While egg freezing is not universally recommended for all single women, the decision to freeze eggs may be a good option for certain women who have received thorough counseling from a reproductive endocrinologist.

What Does Egg Freezing Involve?

The process is very similar to IVF. Oocyte cryopreservation requires daily injectable medications over a 2-3 week period to first suppress the brain’s signal to the ovary, and then to stimulate the ovary to “superovulate” to recruit 10-20 eggs, if possible. During the approximately 10 days of stimulation, the patient comes to the clinic around 5 times for a blood test and pelvic ultrasound to monitor the ovaries’ response to the medications. Once the eggs are ready, the patient undergoes an egg retrieval, which is a 30 minute outpatient procedure. For IVF, the eggs are fertilized with sperm, and then an embryo is transferred to the uterus. For egg freezing, the eggs are frozen after the retrieval.

What is the Chance of Successful Pregnancy after Egg Freezing?

As with all assisted reproductive technology procedures, the success of fertility treatments correlates to a woman’s age at the time of treatment. In general, the younger the woman is, the better chance she has of conceiving. Pregnancy outcomes of IVF vary by clinic and can be found on the CDC website. At the Emory Reproductive Center, we’re proud to report that our rates consistently exceed the national average. Pregnancy outcomes after egg freezing are a little less predictable, because the technology to rapidly freeze eggs is relatively new. In general, trials to date suggest that over 90% of frozen eggs will survive the thawing process and that pregnancy rates should be comparable to those using fresh eggs. Every 6 to 7 frozen eggs should allow for one embryo transfer with a chance of pregnancy dependent on the female partner’s age at the time of egg freezing. This chance can be as high as 60 to 70% in a female who froze her eggs when she was younger than 35 years old; however, the chance of pregnancy decreases with advancing female age at the time of freezing.

Does the Emory Reproductive Center Offer Egg Freezing?

Yes! We routinely offer and perform oocyte cryopreservation for fertility preservation due to medical conditions and social reasons. We would be happy to discuss your personal situation with you in more detail. To schedule a new patient visit, please call (404) 778-3401, and select option 1 for the Emory Reproductive Center.

What is the Cost of Egg Freezing?

The out-of-pocket cost for oocyte cryopreservation varies based on your insurance. In general, the cost of the ovarian stimulation and monitoring, egg retrieval, and freezing is approximately $4,000. The cost of medications can vary, depending upon the patient’s dose and responsiveness to them. Additionally, if a patient later chooses to thaw and fertilize their eggs to undergo an embryo transfer, they will incur the cost of those procedures, as well, which can currently run about $5,000.

About Dr. Jennifer Kawwass

Kawwass headshotJennifer Kawwass, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine and a Guest Researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she is a member of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Team. Dr. Kawwass sees patients at the Emory Reproductive Center at Emory University Hospital Midtown where she serves as the Donor Egg Program Director. Her clinical interests include infertility, in vitro fertilization, functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, and fertility preservation. Dr. Kawwass is originally from Virginia Beach. She attended Davidson College, University of Virginia Medical School, and subsequently completed both her Ob/Gyn Residency and REI Fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children, running, and visiting her family at the beach.