‘Egg Freezing’: Hope Over Hype

pregnant woman with doctorWith early detection and treatment, women diagnosed with breast cancer are surviving at increasing rates.  Unfortunately, successful treatment in reproductive-age women often leads to lower fertility or even early menopause.  Chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer and some noncancerous conditions like lupus can cause permanent damage to the ovaries, making it hard for a woman to conceive after her treatment ends.  Due to advances in reproductive medicine, many women diagnosed with breast cancer are able to start fertility preservation treatment prior to chemotherapy and then pursue pregnancy once their health is restored.  Currently available fertility preservation treatments are oocyte (egg) and embryo cryopreservation or freezing.

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All women will have a natural decline in ovarian function and egg supply over time.  This process begins at birth and completes at menopause.  No medical therapy can halt natural ovarian aging. Oocyte cryopreservation (“egg freezing”) is a medical procedure through which a woman’s eggs can be harvested and frozen and then thawed, fertilized and transferred to the uterus as embryos at a later date.

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