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Fertility Preservation/Egg Freezing/Sperm Freezing

The Fertile Hope Program

Abington Reproductive Medicine is dedicated to providing reproductive options, support and hope to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility. We participate with the Fertile Hope Foundation / Sharing Hope Financial Assistance Program--click the following link for their full website, which is now LiveStrong Fertility Program.  for fertility preservation for cancer patients. We offer cancer patients access to donated fertility medications, discounted egg and embryo freezing services, as well as a discounted cycle fee. Each individual will be handled on a case-by-case basis to ensure they receive the most cost effective option possible. Please contact Karen Merlini, our financial coordinator for more information at: 215-887-2010.

Vist Abington Memorial Hospital's Cancer Center page - click here

Embryo Freezing

Embryos may be frozen through the in vitro fertilization program. This technology has significantly higher pregnancy rates than the freezing of oocytes. This is typically offered to those patients who wish to use their partner’s sperm. Patients must go through a series of hormone treatments to produce oocytes, which are then collected through a ten minute outpatient procedure. The oocytes are then placed with sperm and the resulting embryos are either transferred into the uterus or may be frozen for future use.

Semen Freezing and Storage/Banking Sperm

Semen freezing or “cryopreservation” is a reliable, safe, and time-tested procedure. This is an option for men that may be undergoing potentially sterilizing treatments and wish to bank their sperm specimens. For cryopreservation, it is preferable to collect an ejaculate following three to five days of sexual abstinence. Anyone who wishes to cryopreserve his sperm will need to have an agreement for sperm storage with the laboratory, which is renewed annually. Sperm may also be obtained via surgical aspiration if ejaculation is not possible or there are obstructions present.

Egg Freezing

Egg (oocyte) freezing is no longer considered experimental by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. We offer oocyte freezing to women undergoing potentially sterilizing chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgical oncological procedures. Recently, there have been some major advances in oocyte freezing techniques that have improved the freeze/ thaw survival rates and subsequent live delivery rates. In particular, the process of vitrification and slow freezing may result in post-thaw oocyte survival rates as high as 70-80%.

Oocytes are stored in liquid nitrogen at -256F until ready for use. There have now been over 600 reported worldwide live born babies from thawed oocytes. Understanding the limitations of the technology, the program is unable to provide any guarantees that ultimately an oocyte will survive the process, result in a fertilized embryo, or result in a live born baby. We are now able to offer the banking of oocytes through our embryology laboratory for fertility preservation purposes.

We now offer a new technique called vitrification for freezing human eggs. Compared to slow freezing protocols used in the past, this new technique appears to significantly improve egg survival. Vitrification uses high concentrations of cryoprotectants along with ultra-rapid freezing rates to protect the delicate cell structure of the unfertilized egg.  The following is some more information about egg freezing:

Egg freezing has long been labeled “experimental”, but this is no longer the case. Women who want to preserve their reproductive potential for an array of reasons, now have a greater chance of preserving their fertility through advances in egg freezing.

Abington Reproductive Medicine offers a new technique called vitrification for freezing human eggs. Compared to slow freezing protocols used in the past, this new technique significantly improves egg survival. Vitrification uses ultra-rapid freezing rates to protect the delicate cell structure of the unfertilized egg, resulting in more successful pregnancies.

Our Laboratory Director, Scott E. Smith, PhD, HCLD was a member of the team responsible for the first baby produced from frozen donor eggs in the United States. Dr. Smith and his team continue to improve and develop these new and important technologies.
Some reasons why women freeze their eggs include:

1) Women diagnosed with cancer can freeze her eggs before undergoing chemotherapy, surgery or radiation treatment.

2) Single women may choose to freeze eggs because they do not yet have a partner.

3) Women who desire to postpone childbearing for the purpose of education or career.

4) Women with a family history of early menopause may wish to freeze eggs before their eggs are depleted at an early age.
If you have questions or would like more information about egg freezing or any of our services, please call us at: 215-887-2010.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

There are specific cancers that may be inherited, including hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA-1 and BRCA-2), MEN (multiple endocrine neoplasia), HNPCC (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), as well numerous others. Once a cancerous gene has been identified, a couple may go through IVF. Their resulting embryos are assayed using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to determine which are affected. We then transfer only unaffected embryos, thereby preventing the transmission of the cancer.

Donor Oocyte/Gestational Carrier Program

If a woman has lost ovarian function where her ovaries are no longer producing viable eggs or her ovaries have been surgically removed or damaged from radiation or chemotherapy, then she has the option of using a younger woman’s oocytes via egg donation. These oocytes are then placed with the intended mother’s partner’s sperm and the resulting embryos may be transferred into the uterus and if implanted, successfully carried. Egg donors are screened for all sexually transmitted diseases. They also undergo genetic, medical and psychological screening prior to being considered a suitable donor.

Using a gestational carrier, also known as a surrogate mother, is an alternative for a woman who no longer has a uterus because of cancer treatment. The woman’s embryos are transferred to the surrogate who will carry and deliver the baby. Surrogates are extensively screened too.

Donor Sperm Program

Sperm may be ordered from banks that have recruited donors. The sperm is shipped to the clinic and then a timed insemination is performed exactly when the woman is ovulating. Sperm from donors has been quarantined for six (6) months and tested for all sexually transmitted diseases as well as appropriate genetic screening.