CFC Innovation in Fertility Preservation
CHA Fertility Center is the global leader in fertility preservation– egg freezing and egg banking, some of the newest services in assisted reproductive technology (ART). In 2002, CHA Fertility Center established the world’s first publicly accessible egg freezing clinic right here in our current Los Angeles Southern California location for women wanting to freeze and store their eggs. With fertility preservation as a top priority, CFC made significant breakthroughs in egg freezing including innovating the “flash freezing” vitrification technique—now an industry standard used across all advanced fertility centers.
Why Egg Freezing / Egg Banking
Every woman is born with a finite number of eggs. Over time, however, these eggs lose their ability to function properly. The resulting decline in reproductive ability can make it difficult or impossible for a woman to get pregnant at a later point in her life when she is ready to start a family. Knowing this today, a woman now has the option to freeze her eggs (oocyte cryopreservation) at her current, younger age and store them for as long as she wants (egg banking). This way, she can preserve her fertility until she is ready to start or grow her family.
There are many reasons why a woman would opt to preserve her fertility. They include:
- Medical—some women have disorders or illnesses that may lead to irreversible damage to their ovarian function. For example, chemotherapy and/or radiation used to treat cancer can also destroy a woman’s or girl’s ovaries. With parents’ consent, a girl may choose to freeze her eggs before undergoing chemotherapy, as did this Arizona teen with a rare bone marrow disease decided to do.
- Personal—some women may wish to delay pregnancy due to career aspirations or wanting to wait for the right partner before starting a family. For some, they may already have children but want to use their younger eggs in the future when they are ready to add to their family. Egg freezing is also an option for women and couples going through IVF who prefer to freeze their surplus eggs rather than their embryos due to personal values.
The egg freezing process is very similar to the initial stages of IVF in that a woman first goes through ovulation induction. This is where her ovarian follicles are stimulated to develop a larger quantity of eggs through self-administered medication. Once the follicles housing the unfertilized eggs reach a certain maturity level, which is determined through careful monitoring, our CFC doctor then extracts, or retrieves, the eggs from each follicle in the ovaries using a transvaginal ultrasound-guided aspiration needle.
Monitored anesthesia care is administered by our licensed anesthesiologist in order to eliminate discomfort by the woman and increase retrieval effectiveness. This egg retrieval is an outpatient procedure that takes no more than 10 minutes. Once the procedure is finished, the patient may only need 1 day to fully recover and may experience some cramping during that time.
Once the eggs are retrieved, they are immediately given to our in-house laboratory for assessment. Extracted eggs that meet the right conditions are then ‘flash frozen’ via vitrification and stored in the CHA Fertility Center egg bank on location.
Freezing embryos has been a standard practice for many years, however freezing eggs has only recently graduated from its “experimental” status in 2012 by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine due in large part to CHA Fertility Center’s innovation in the freezing process. Developed by CHA, the now-standard freezing process called vitrification allows us to rapidly cool (“flash freeze”) your retrieved eggs without the fear of damaging your eggs—a danger that previously challenged embryologists for decades.
Studies show significantly improved success in fertilization, implantation and clinical pregnancy rates using vitrified eggs over conventionally frozen eggs for most cases. Data also show no increase in birth defects, developmental disorders or chromosomal abnormalities when IVF cycles were conducted with vitrified eggs.
In the past, conventional freezing technology had been inefficient in terms of egg survival and pregnancy rate, more so than embryos due to the more delicate nature of the egg (ovum/oocyte). With conventional “slow freezing”, ice crystals often form within the egg—effectively destroying cellular integrity during the thawing process. Recent breakthroughs in cryogenics have enabled CHA Fertility Center to add “antifreeze” to the process. This “antifreeze,” known as cryoprotectants, lowers the temperature at which the cells will freeze. It also increases the viscosity of the cell. When the temperature of that syrup is brought down rapidly, the solution turns to anamorphic ice without ever crystallizing (vitrification), thus reducing the likelihood of damage when thawing. CHA’s vitrification technique has demonstrated superior results with successful pregnancy rates far above that of the conventional method of slow freezing for most cases.
When the woman is ready to start her family, she can have her banked eggs thawed and fertilized with either her partner’s or donor’s sperm. She may select Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) to help with fertilization. Once her egg is fertilized, she can choose other micromanipulation techniques such as Assisted Hatching (AH) and Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening (PGS) to select the best embryo(s) for implantation. This process is essentially the latter stages of the IVF cycle. All the same tests and micromanipulation techniques may be used to increase chances of pregnancy.
Embryo & Sperm Freezing (Cryopreservation)
Embryos cryopreserved using vitrification have the same viability for attachment as freshly harvested eggs. Also perfectly suited to preserving sperm cells, our process can extend the viability of those cells indefinitely. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, these vitrified cells can be stored indefinitely without compromising their quality– no signs of negative effects on eggs, embryos and sperm– with reports of successful pregnancies after over 15 years in cryopreservation. CHA Fertility Center has made it possible to suspend the cellular development of an egg for years (freeze it, thaw it, fertilize it, and reintroduce it back into the uterus), essentially pausing your biological clock and stopping the aging process of your eggs, embryos or sperm.
Schedule a Consultation
Making the decision to freeze your eggs may not be an easy one due to all the emotional and financial aspects that come with it. Call us today at 323.525.3377 or send us a message here to schedule a consultation to determine your level of fertility and whether egg freezing is right for you.
We at CHA Fertility Center also encourage and support those who are interested in speaking with a mental health professional for further support.
CHA Fertility Center research articles: