Oocyte banking is one of the top options for fertility preservation when facing cancer treatments as a woman in her reproductive years. The procedure requires time, which is one of the contributing factors in patient/doctor final decision.
How Does Oocyte Banking Work?
After the cancer diagnosis is given, treatment options are discussed. If fertility is an issue, women are given options like oocyte banking. If oocyte banking is chosen, medications are used to promote egg maturation and release. Women typically take medication for one week prior to the harvesting procedure. The medications are injected. At a scheduled time, eggs are harvested and frozen whole. Unlike embryo banking, no sperm is needed to fertilize the egg before cryopreservation. The harvesting cost ranges from $10,000 to $15,000 and there is a storage fee involved with keeping the eggs on ice until needed.
What Happens After Treatment is Complete?
Most doctors suggest women wait up to five years to see if the cancer will return. After the waiting period agreed upon between patient and doctor, the eggs are thawed. In-vitro fertilization is used to attempt pregnancy. One or more eggs can be used during the IVF procedure. Multiple procedures may be needed, but are limited by the number of eggs harvested and those deemed viable after thawing.
What is the Success Rate of Pregnancy After Oocyte Banking?
The success rate of IVF with frozen eggs is nearly the same as IVF with fresh eggs, but those success rates do not pertain to women who’ve undergone cancer treatments. There are other factors that come into play after completing cancer treatment so the chance of pregnancy truly depends on the woman, type of cancer, type of cancer treatment and other factors.
Risk Factors of Oocyte Banking
The medications doctors use to promote egg maturation and release may increase the growth of certain cancer cells. The time it takes from start of the process to egg harvest may be too long for women with fast-growing forms of cancer.
Is There an Increased Risk of Birth Defects After Oozyte Banking?
There appears to be no clinically significant increase in birth defects associated with IVF using frozen embryos, according to 2012 story published by the Associated Press. The story quotes Dr. Samantha Pfeifer from the University of Pennsylvania on the topic.