Category: Treatment Options

IVF Cost: Preparing for In Vitro Fertilization

ivf costWondering or worried about IVF cost? If you and your partner are struggling to conceive, the last thing you need to worry about is money. In vitro fertilization (IVF) can be expensive, and therefore, it might not seem like it’s an option for everyone.

At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates or at one of our other locations, we believe everyone should have the opportunity to start a family. We understand how daunting IVF cost is and how difficult it can be to understand insurance coverage options. It is our goal to help you navigate the process and find the best financial solution for you.

Our financial and insurance counselors will walk through you the various programs and options that may be available to you, so you can worry less about IVF cost and focus on your future family.

Affordable Care Programs We Offer

At Vios Fertility Institute, we provide a variety of care programs to lower IVF cost and make fertility testing, treatment cycles, and family planning options more affordable.

The Vios Pulse Fertility Wellness Check-Up

As women become older, the quality and quantity of their eggs decrease. If they are not attempting pregnancy, it can be challenging for women to learn about fertility-related issues until it is too late.

The Vios Pulse is baseline fertility testing that provides couples, women, and men with insight into their fertility potential and alerts you to potential issues that could arise in the future.

How It Works

On day 2-5 of their menstrual cycle, women will undergo an AFC ultrasound, which indicates how many resting follicles are present during their cycle. Typically, every follicle contains an egg. The SIS ultrasound is performed on days 6-11 of the menstrual cycle.

Men will undergo a semen analysis to understand the health of their sperm. The semen analysis measures three major factors of sperm health: the count, the motility (movement), and the morphology (shape). It can be performed at any time or saved for future use.

The physician will review the results and provide recommendations for future family planning. If they find abnormal results, you can schedule a consultation to discuss options for maximizing or preserving fertility through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The Vios Promise Program

Traditionally, patients are required to pay for every individual treatment cycle, regardless of whether they become pregnant. If the IVF cycles are unsuccessful, they may not have the resources to pursue other paths to parenthood.

The Vios Promise Program is based on our confidence in our pregnancy success rates, which allow us to offer a program where we share the financial risk with patients. We provide a full refund of the Vios Promise fee if there is no live birth.

For a set fee, patients can receive up to 6 IVF cycles using a fresh donor egg and the unlimited use of extra (cryopreserved) embryos to achieve a live birth. The program fee covers:

  • Cryopreservation
  • Egg donor from our agencies
  • Egg donor medications
  • Egg retrieval
  • Embryo transfers

To qualify for the program, patients must complete a full medical prescreening and be appropriate candidates for assisted reproductive technology (ART). The Vios Promise is the perfect option for couples who do not have insurance coverage.

Other Financial Options We Offer at Vios Hoffman Estates

At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates or at our other locations, we understand that IVF cost is one of the top concerns for our patients. We recognize the importance of insurance coverage and financial options when it comes to your treatment.

During your initial consultation, our physicians will discuss treatment plan options and success rates based on your medical history and level of health. The consultation also allows you to learn about the financing options and programs that may be available to you.

Insurance Coordinator

Before your initial appointment, our insurance coordinator will verify your fertility coverage so we will be able to discuss specific diagnostic and treatment options that would or would not be covered by your insurance.

Financial Counselor

After the consultation with your doctor, our financial counselor will be available to answer questions regarding your specific treatment plan, the process for sending insurance claims, and payment plans for self-pay patients.

Billing Specialist

If you have insurance coverage, our billing specialist will work with the insurance company to ensure claims are processed and paid in a timely manner.

Patient Account Specialist

Whether you have questions about specific bills or insurance coverage, you can speak with one of our patient account specialists.

Customized Loan Programs

To provide you with the most comprehensive fertility financing options available, we have partnerships with leading financial specialists focusing on fertility. To learn more about our customized loan programs, visit our Financing Options page.

Fertility Grants

If you cannot afford treatment through insurance or financing, you should consider fertility treatment grants. To learn more about organizations that offer treatment grants, visit our Fertility Grants page.

Vios in Hoffman Estates is Here to Support You Every Step of the Way

At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates or at one of our other locations, we believe it is our responsibility to provide you with clarity so you can make educated decisions about what path is best for you.

While we have other locations in Northern Illinois, Vios Hoffman Estates is most convenient to Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Northbrook, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Mount Prospect.

Our team of financial and insurance advisors will walk you through the process and help you find ways to lower IVF cost and achieve your dreams of parenthood. To set your mind at ease, we have compiled a list of financial questions we receive frequently.

To learn more about treatment plans and financial options, schedule your initial consultation today.

Choosing the Best Fertility Clinic

fertility clinicEvery fertility journey can be stressful and frustrating, especially if you have trouble conceiving for more than a year. If you are ready to have a baby but struggle to do so, it may be time to find a fertility clinic that helps you navigate the journey and achieve your dreams of parenthood.

When you want to choose a fertility clinic, there are several factors to consider. You need a clinic with a team of compassionate, caring doctors that cater to your unique needs. You also need a clinic that offers easy-to-navigate financial options.

At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates or at one of our other locations, we are on a mission to educate and bring awareness to your fertility health, eliminate the stigma and falsehoods of infertility, and empower you by providing accurate information so you can take the first step on your fertility journey.

The Top Factors to Look for in a Fertility Clinic

Doctor Expertise and Customized Care

If you struggle with infertility, you deserve a caring, empathetic doctor with a knowledge of the latest fertility innovations and a high success rate. You also need someone who goes out of their way to understand you and your situation.

At Vios in Hoffman Estates or at one of our other locations, our team of board-certified and fellowship-trained reproductive endocrinologists, infertility specialists, urologists, and patient account specialists are here for you. We stay up to date with the latest fertility innovations and customize fertility treatments to suit your specific needs.

We possess a genuine desire to help you have a baby. We will listen and get to you and your partner on a personal level. We will also provide encouragement and education so that you can start your family with love and support.

A Comprehensive Menu of Services

Although in vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most common fertility treatments, it is not the only option. When determining a fertility clinic, there are other treatments with varying levels of simplicity, innovation, and financial options you may want to consider.

At Vios, we offer a comprehensive menu of fertility services to suit a variety of specific needs and goals. Before your initial consultation, we also provide you with a patient intake form to learn more about your medical history so that we can pre-determine the best treatments for you.

Fertility Diagnostic Testing

  • Ovarian reserve testingOvarian reserve testing provides a baseline of your fertility health. The results of the ovarian reserve testing allow us to evaluate treatment plans and their success rates for you. To determine the quality and quantity of your eggs, we will perform an AFC ultrasound and bloodwork on day 2-5 of your menstrual cycle.
  • Semen analysis – A semen analysis measures three factors of sperm health in men: the count, the motility (movement), and the morphology (shape).

Infertility Treatments

At Vios Fertility Institute at Hoffman Estates, our team of compassionate physicians will work with you to understand your fertility health and develop a customized plan with basic or advanced infertility treatments:

  • Timed intercourse – As a simple treatment for couples, timed intercourse involves monitoring to track ovulation so you can time intercourse at the appropriate time.
  • Ovulation induction – If you need help with ovulation, we use a combination of ovulation induction (fertility) medications to help grow follicles and time the release of the egg to increase the chances of fertilization.
  • Intrauterine inseminationIntrauterine insemination is a common treatment for couples experiencing unexplained infertility. It is accomplished by placing highly concentrated sperm directly into the uterus to increase the chance of conception.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)In vitro fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology where eggs are retrieved from a woman and inseminated with sperm from a man in a laboratory to create embryos. After monitoring embryo development, one or multiple embryos are transferred to the uterus of a woman.
  • Frozen embryo transfer (FET)Frozen embryo transfer is when a frozen embryo from a previous IVF cycle or a donor embryo is cryopreserved, then thawed and transferred into a woman’s uterus.
  • Genetic testing (PGS and PGD)Genetic testing is an additional, optional step in the IVF cycle. After eggs are fertilized and begin their development as embryos in the lab, they are tested for chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorders.

3rd Party Reproductive Options

If you are unable to conceive a child, you may want to consider 3rd party reproductive options, which include:

  • Gestational carrier or surrogate – If a couple is unable to carry a baby themselves, they may consider a gestational carrier or surrogate. A gestational carrier is a woman who carries an embryo created through the process of IVF, using the egg and sperm of the intended parents. A surrogate is a woman who uses her egg and is inseminated with the sperm of the intended father or a sperm donor to become pregnant.
  • Donor eggs – Donor eggs are used by individuals and couples who experience infertility due to a lack of quality eggs. Egg donors have been thoroughly medically and psychologically screened prior to being accepted into the donor pool.
  • Donor spermDonor sperm are used by individuals and couples experiencing male infertility.

Fertility Preservation

If you want to wait to start a family, you should consider fertility preservation. Individuals and couples can choose to freeze sperm, eggs, or embryos to preserve future fertility. Fertility preservation is also ideal for people with chronic illnesses or medical conditions. For men and women considering fertility preservation for medical reasons, we schedule appointments within 24 hours.

Faculty and Staff Commitment and Patient Care at Vios Hoffman Estates

At Vios Fertility Hoffman Estates, our team of compassionate doctors, nurses, technicians, patient coordinators, and financial specialists are committed to you. Beginning with the first consultation, we prioritize patient care and comfort over everything else.

Success Rates

When you choose a fertility clinic, you should also consider your fertility doctor’s success rate. However, you should also keep in mind that everyone seeking fertility treatments has varying circumstances.

Although we are always positive about your chances, we also provide you with a realistic fertility plan and keep you informed every step of the way.

Ease of Setting Appointments

Whether you have questions or want to schedule your initial consultation, Vios has a new-patient toll-free number you always call, (866) 258-8467.

We try to see new patients within a week to two weeks and sooner if possible. Once you schedule an appointment, you will have the doctor’s direct number, as well as access to your team.

Financial Options

We know how stressful it can be to find affordable fertility treatments, which is why we strive to find the best financial solutions for you.

Our team of financial and insurance coordinators aspires to help you find the best solution. They can walk you through the various options and programs, so you can make informed decisions about the best financial path to take.

Apart from access to financial and insurance coordinators, we also provide you with affordable care programs that include The Vios Pulse Fertility Wellness Check-Up and The Vios Promise.

Vios in Hoffman Estates Breaks Barriers in Fertility

At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates or at our other locations, we are passionate about changing the stigma surrounding infertility, which we achieve with the most comprehensive, proactive fertility clinics in the Midwest that puts patient care about everything else.

While we have other locations in Northern Illinois, Vios Hoffman Estates is most convenient to Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Northbrook, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Mount Prospect.

If you want to learn more about our fertility treatments but are hesitant to make a decision, you should listen to our real-life fertility treatment patients.

To schedule your initial consultation, contact us today. Together, we can make your dreams of parenthood a reality!

Elective Egg Freezing: Is It Right for You?

egg freezingOtherwise known as cryopreservation, egg freezing involves the freezing and storage of unfertilized eggs obtained by stimulation and egg retrieval. The procedure is ideal for couples who want to achieve pregnancy at a later date through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The process begins with ovarian stimulation, which utilizes hormones that are self-administered daily by the patient for ten days. Next, the patient undergoes transvaginal (or trans-abdominal) egg retrieval. The unfertilized eggs are frozen and stored for potential future use.

Fertility Preservation

When it comes to fertility, age is an important factor. As women become older, their eggs diminish in number and quality, which makes it difficult to become or stay pregnant.

For women who are not ready to conceive but want to preserve fertility for the future, fertility preservation is a perfect option. It is also ideal for women who experience conditions that affect fertility or require treatment for cancer or another illness.

Cancer Treatments

For women and men diagnosed with cancer, egg freezing and sperm freezing protect eggs and sperm before cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Unfortunately, cancer treatments are toxic and can negatively impact eggs and sperm.

At Vios Fertility Institute at Hoffman Estates and at our other locations, our team of reproductive endocrinologists works directly with oncologists to ensure optimal coordination of cancer treatments and fertility preservation. We understand the importance of cancer treatments, which is why we guarantee all oncofertility patients see a Vios provider within 24-48 hours of their first phone call.

After the initial consultation, we can begin the process of growing, freezing, or fertilizing eggs within two days and finish the process in two weeks. Depending on the type of chemotherapy regimen, the endocrinologist may not recommend fertility preservation.

For more information about cancer treatments and fertility, please contact the experts at Vios Fertility Institute Hoffman Estates or read our blog article Fertility Preservation and Fertility Options After Cancer Diagnosis.

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)

Premature ovarian insufficiency, or premature menopause, refers to a significantly diminished or absent ovarian function before the age of 40 and affects 1-2% of girls and women. If a female has diminished or absent ovarian function, they will not produce normal amounts of hormones or release eggs regularly, resulting in infertility.

If you experience the symptoms of premature ovarian failure, you should consider fertility preservation to preserve viable eggs or embryos for future use. The signs and symptoms of POF include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular or skipped periods
  • Irritability
  • Mood lability
  • Ovulating early in the menstrual cycle or not ovulating at all
  • Shortening menstrual cycles or pre-cycle spotting

Autoimmune Disease

Women with chronic autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, should consider fertility preservation. The medications that treat autoimmune diseases possess ingredients that harm ovaries and cause infertility.

However, like chemotherapeutic agents, some medications do not harm ovaries. If you are unsure about the effects of your medication, you should consult your doctor immediately.

How Does Fertility Preservation Work?

Fertility preservation is the freezing of eggs or embryos for future use through the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF). In a normal menstrual cycle, women grow multiple eggs every month, and 1-2 eggs develop bigger than the rest and are selected for ovulation.

Next, medications called gonadotropins are injected into the stomach to grow the eggs. Typically, you will undergo multiple injections per day for about two weeks, or until the eggs can be removed.

The egg retrieval is performed under anesthesia (so the patient is asleep) using a vaginal ultrasound probe with a tiny needle attached. The needle moves through the wall of the vagina and directly into the ovary, so you will not notice any incisions when you wake up. The fluid is removed from the ovary with a needle, which is given to an embryologist. They will identify the eggs under a microscope.

Who is Eligible for Egg Freezing?

Elective egg freezing is ideal for post-pubertal to pre-menopausal females (ages 15-45). However, it is recommended that women take advantage of their body’s fertility in their 20s or 30s.

Future Use for Elective Egg Freezing

When you are ready to have a baby, the frozen eggs are thawed and fertilized. The resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus of the patient or a gestational carrier. If the patient does not have adequate ovarian function at the time, she can take hormones for approximately three weeks before transfer and three months after to support the pregnancy.

Fertility Preservation for Men

While a male produces millions of new sperm every day, there are situations in which a man may prefer to freeze sperm.

During the simple process, a man ejaculates into a sterile container, which is frozen through the process of vitrification. A man can produce multiple specimens over a short period of time until the desired number of frozen sperm has been reached.

At Vios Fertility in Hoffman Estates, IL and at Our Other Locations, Conception is Our Life

At Vios Fertility Institute in Hoffman Estates and at our other locations, we are on a mission to help you achieve your dreams of parenthood. Whether you are unable to conceive a child, or you want to learn more about fertility preservation, our team of compassionate doctors is here for you. We will help you find your way to fertility health and conception with innovative, cutting-edge treatment options along with unmatched patient experience.

While we have other locations in Northern Illinois, Vios Hoffman Estates is most convenient to Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Northbrook, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Mount Prospect.

To learn more about your specific options concerning fertility diagnosis and treatments, schedule a consultation today.

IUI vs. IVF: What’s Right for You?

iui vs. ivfWondering the difference between IUI vs. IVF? As two of the most popular fertility treatments available, intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are similar but have significant differences. IUI is a simple procedure where the sperm is placed in the reproductive tract. IVF is more complex and involves sperm and eggs, which are combined to form an embryo in a laboratory setting.

What is IUI?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is oftentimes the first step in fertility treatment for couples experiencing infertility. Otherwise known as artificial insemination, it is a less expensive and less invasive fertility treatment option with success in numerous patients.

To accomplish an IUI, a specialist places highly concentrated sperm into the uterus at the time of ovulation, which boosts fertilization by increasing the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes.

Apart from helping couples with unexplained infertility, IUI is also common for couples experiencing ovulation issues, mild endometriosis, and male infertility issues with sperm, or erectile dysfunction.

Intrauterine insemination is more affordable than other fertility treatments, which is why many couples may choose to begin with it. Other benefits of intrauterine insemination include:

  • The enhancement of sperm quality with the washing procedure
  • It is performed with or without fertility drugs
  • Less invasive than other fertility treatments
  • Provides gentler conditions than other treatments
  • Shorter in length than other treatments

Intrauterine insemination is a simple procedure that is minimally invasive and requires a minor time commitment over the course of a woman’s monthly cycle.

Stimulation and Monitoring of Egg Growth

To begin, a woman takes oral or injectable medications to stimulate the growth and maturation of her eggs and prepare for ovulation.

Typically, the woman is given fertility medications for a time period of 5-14 days. While on stimulation medication, regular monitoring via ultrasound and blood tests will occur every 2-3 days. Ultrasound monitoring measures egg follicle growth as well as the increased thickness of the uterine lining. Blood tests monitor estrogen levels related to egg growth and ovarian function.

Trigger Shot

Once follicle development and estrogen levels reach optimal numbers, the woman is given a trigger shot that places eggs in the final stage of maturation and causes ovulation. Once the shot is administered, the IUI procedure will take place within 12-36 hours.

Sperm Collection and Washing

On the day of the procedure, the male partner provides a fresh sperm sample or a previously collected vial that will be thawed, then processed by our laboratory for insemination. In a process called sperm washing, the sperm is separated from other semen components, creating a highly concentrated sample for the procedure.

Insemination

For the intrauterine insemination procedure, washed sperm are placed directly into the uterine cavity using a thin, flexible catheter. The procedure only takes a few minutes to complete.

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology and a process of fertilization where eggs are retrieved from a woman and inseminated with sperm from a man to create embryos. After monitoring embryo development, one or multiple embryos are transferred to the uterus of a woman. The remaining embryos are frozen through a process called vitrification.

In vitro fertilization treats infertility and other genetic issues, such as blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure, or decreased sperm count.

As one of the most popular fertilization treatments, in vitro fertilization provides multiple benefits, including:

  • Diagnoses fertilization issues
  • Helps patients who would otherwise be unable to conceive
  • More successful than other forms of assisted reproductive technology
  • You can use donated sperm or eggs
  • You have control over the timing

Overall, in vitro fertilization is an extensive process that requires two to three months to complete.

Prepare for Ovarian Stimulation

A patient may be placed on birth control for one month to control the timing of their cycle, decrease the chances of cyst production, and synchronize follicle production.

Ovarian Stimulation and Monitoring

In a monthly cycle, the body releases one egg from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes. During an in vitro fertilization cycle, the number of eggs is increased to create multiple embryos for treatment. With ovarian stimulation, we increase follicle production, which increases the number of mature eggs within the ovaries for egg retrieval. Medication is administered daily through a tiny needle injection for 8-14 days to stimulate the ovaries.

While on stimulation medication, regular monitoring via ultrasound and blood tests are required. Once follicle development and estrogen levels reach optimal numbers, the final medication step is a trigger shot, which allows the eggs to develop to the final stage of maturation and begins the process of ovulation.

Egg Retrieval Procedure

Fresh or frozen sperm can be used to inseminate the eggs. If a fresh sample is being used, on the same day as the egg retrieval, a sperm sample must also be collected. It is best to abstain from ejaculation for two or more days prior to sample collection.

Approximately, the egg retrieval will take place 36 hours after the trigger shot. During the 15-minute procedure, a patient is placed under sedation. Using ultrasound guidance, a needle is guided into each follicle and aspirated for collection.

The amount of eggs obtained during a retrieval will vary based on the patient’s response to stimulation, ovarian reserve, age, and various other factors. Some patients experience spotting, bloating, and mild discomfort. However, most patients fully recover within one or two days.

Egg Fertilization Through Sperm Injection

The eggs and sperm are taken to an embryology lab, where they are placed in optimal conditions to foster growth. The eggs can be inseminated via two methods – conventional insemination or interact plasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The eggs and sperm are then placed in an incubator to facilitate fertilization and embryo development.

Monitoring of Embryo Development

To start the observation of fertilization, the growth and development of the embryos will be monitored. Due to various reasons, there will be fertilized eggs that do not develop into healthy embryos.

Embryo Transfer Procedure

Dependent upon embryo development, embryos are transferred anywhere from three to six days after fertilization. The embryos will be evaluated, and the most viable embryos will be selected for transfer.

Using a soft, ultra-thin catheter, the embryo will be transferred to the uterus under ultrasound guidance. The procedure takes two minutes and can be compared to a pap smear in terms of discomfort.

Freezing of Remaining Embryos

The remaining embryos will be cryopreserved, or vitrified, using a fast-freezing and critical process called vitrification.

If the cycle does not result in pregnancy, the remaining frozen embryos can allow for future pregnancy opportunities. Due to scientific advances, the success rates of a frozen embryo transfer are compared to that of a fresh embryo transfer.

Pregnancy Test

Approximately two weeks after the embryo transfer, patients will undergo a blood pregnancy test to receive their test results.

IUI vs. IVF: What is Right for You?

If you are ready to conceive a child, both IUI and IVF are effective fertility treatments. However, the procedures affect everyone differently, so there are multiple factors to consider.

IUI, for example, is an ideal starting point for couples experiencing unexplained infertility or ovulation issues. It is not an effective treatment for specific diagnoses and conditions, including:

IVF, on the other hand, is recommended for couples who experienced a lack of success with IUI, advanced endometriosis, or diminished egg supply. However, it is more expensive and invasive than IUI.

At Vios Hoffman Estates, We Make Your Dreams of Parenthood Come True

If you are considering IUI vs. IVF, we are here to help. At Vios Hoffman Estates as well as our other locations, we provide you with a team of compassionate doctors, patient-centered care, expertise, testing, and solutions. By understanding how your body works, you can take control of your fertility health and jumpstart your dreams of becoming a parent.

While we have other locations in Northern Illinois, Vios Hoffman Estates is most convenient to Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Northbrook, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, and Mount Prospect.

To discuss your options and learn about our treatment options, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Fertility Preservation & Fertility Options After Cancer Diagnosis

fertility preservationRecently, I was thinking about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I thought I would take a moment to answer some important questions when it comes to fertility after cancer and about fertility preservation.

Did you know that breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women with 1 in 8 women developing breast cancer at some point in their lives? It is also the most common cancer among reproductive aged women with about 15% of breast cancer cases occurring before the age of 40. Given how common breast cancer is, it is very likely that you or someone you know will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point. As a fertility doctor, whenever I hear “cancer,” I always think about life AFTER cancer as up to 91% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive at 5 years. (1)

How does chemotherapy affect fertility?

Well, it depends on the kind of chemotherapy being used. In general, the most common chemotherapies used for breast cancer age the ovaries by about 10 years. The earlier you are when you start the chemotherapy, the more likely you will be able to conceive after chemotherapy, but there is no guarantee. The BEST option to ensure future fertility is to freeze eggs or embryos for use later which is called fertility preservation.

How long does fertility preservation take?

At Vios, we make oncofertility patients a priority and will make sure any cancer patient can get in to see a Vios provider within 24-48 hours. After the initial consult, we can usually start the process growing eggs to freeze or fertilize within 1-2 days of seeing a patient and finish the process in as soon as 2 weeks. We understand the importance of moving forward with cancer treatment as quickly as possible, so we do everything in our power to minimize the delay before moving through with treatment.

What is involved in fertility perservation?

Preserving fertility for the future involves freezing either eggs or embryos for use later through the process of IVF or in vitro fertilization. In a normal menstrual cycle, women start to grow numerous eggs each month and 1 or maybe 2 eggs grow bigger than the rest and are chosen to be ovulated. When we do IVF, we try to get as many eggs as possible to grow and we take them out of the body just before ovulation.

To get the eggs to grow, we give medications called gonadotropins in the form of injections in the belly. There are usually multiple injections a day for about 2 weeks until the eggs get to the point where they are ready to be taken out of the body. An egg retrieval is done under anesthesia (so you are asleep) using a vaginal ultrasound probe with a tiny needle attached. The needle goes through the wall of the vagina and directly into the ovary, so you will not notice any incisions when you wake up. The eggs are floating in fluid in the ovary so we remove the fluid with the needle and give the fluid to the embryologist who identifies the eggs under the microscope.

If we are planning on freezing eggs, we do so within hours of the retrieval. If we are planning to make embryos, we use sperm from the patient’s partner or a sperm donor to attempt to fertilize the eggs. We find out how many eggs fertilized the day after the retrieval and we watch the eggs that do fertilize (now called embryos) for up to 7 days to see if they can make it to become a blastocyst which is the stage where we freeze the embryos. An embryo that makes it to the blastocyst stage has the best chance of becoming a baby, but is not a guarantee of a baby.

Some women/couples choose to do genetic testing of the embryos to see if the embryos have normal chromosomes which further increases the chance the embryo will be a baby, but still does not guarantee success.

What is the difference between freezing eggs and freezing embryos?

When we are doing an egg retrieval, we have the option of removing eggs and freezing them immediately or attempting fertilization and creating embryos. If eggs are frozen, they will need to be fertilized in the future before they can become an embryo and then a baby. In order to fertilize eggs, we need to have a sperm source.

Whenever a retrieval is done, we get a certain number of eggs, but not every egg that is retrieved is a good egg. We can only work with mature eggs. Of the eggs that are mature, we expect about 70% of them to fertilize and about 50% of those eggs that fertilize to make it to the blastocyst stage where the embryo can be frozen or transferred. At each stage in the process, you lose quantity, but gain quality.

When you freeze eggs, we expect about 90% of the eggs to survive when we thaw them. After thaw, we still expect around 65-70% to fertilize and 50% to make it to the blastocyst stage. Now, those numbers are averages and you never know how many embryos are going to make it to become a blastocyst until you attempt to fertilize them. It is recommended that a woman freeze 15-20 eggs for each child that she desires (again averages).

On the other hand, when we fertilize the eggs immediately after retrieval and create embryos, we will know how many eggs fertilize, how many made it to the blastocyst stage, and the quality of those embryos which allows us to predict much better the chances those embryos could become babies. While you may need 15-20 eggs for a good chance of a baby, you might only need 2-3 embryos if they are good quality embryos. Embryos also survive the freezing and thawing process a little better than eggs and it is expected that 95% of embryos frozen will survive.

If a woman has a partner with whom she would like to create embryos, it is generally recommended to create and freeze embryos rather than eggs because we will know up front if the eggs fertilized normally and have a better idea of the chance of pregnancy in the future

I have a lot of expenses right now, how much will this cost?

For many women/couples who are interested in infertility treatment, they have time to save up funds in order to pay for the treatment, but this is not usually the case with cancer patients. Moving forward with fertility preservation usually needs to happen rapidly so that cancer treatment is not delayed. Fortunately, there are many programs available to help with the costs. LIVESTRONG and EMD Serono both have programs to help cancer patients obtain fertility medications for FREE. These programs do require an application and verification of the cancer diagnosis, but the applications are processed quickly and do not require too many hoops to jump through. Those programs may not cover all the medications needed for fertility preservation, but they do cover most of them.

At Vios Fertility Institute, we offer deeply discounted fertility preservation treatments. Our financial team can also work with patients on payment plans or loan options depending on the situation. We do not want cost to be the reason someone chooses not to pursue fertility preservation.

Can I just do IVF or fertility treatments after I have my cancer treated?

You can absolutely pursue fertility treatment after cancer treatment, but because the cancer treatment can age the ovaries, you may be less likely to have success if you wait until after the cancer is treated. It is impossible to know for sure how much your fertility will be impacted by cancer treatment. Some women are able to conceive spontaneously after treatment, but others, even those who were very young when they had treatment, may never be able to have genetic children even with aggressive fertility treatment.

There is Hope and Help for Fertility Preservation

If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with cancer and has any desire to have a child or children in the future, I encourage a consultation with a fertility specialist BEFORE cancer treatment. You are under no obligation to pursue any kind of fertility preservation treatment, but a fertility specialist can make sure that you have all the information you need to make the best choice for you.

To schedule an appointment at Vios Fertility Institute, you can call 866.258.8467 or reach us on our website at viosfertility.com.

References

  1. Effects of chemotherapy and hormonal therapy for early breast cancer on recurrence and 15-year survival: an overview of the randomized trials. Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG). 2005, Lancet, pp. 365:1687-717.