As more women decide to wait to have children until they are in their late 30s or early 40s while they pursue their careers or find the right partner, with egg freezing they don’t have to worry about their fertility declining as they age. With advancement in egg freezing technology, eggs retrieved when a woman is in her early 30s will essentially remain the same quality after a decade or more.
Sperm Banking is where the man’s semen (containing sperms) is frozen and stored for possible use in the future for ICSI or IVF procedures. Sperm Banking is recommended when the male partner is going to undergo treatment for cancer, vasectomy, orchidectomy or sterilization resulting from medical conditions. Men with low sperm count, at high risk of occupational exposure to radiation or toxic substances or high risk of testicular injury are also advised to bank their sperms while they are still healthy.
During IVF or most assisted reproductive treatments, the woman will undergo an ovarian hyperstimulation process. As a result, more eggs are produced during ovulation, which leads to the creation of a multiple number of embryos.
As multiple pregnancies increases risks, it is not recommended to have more than three embryos transferred into the uterus for implantation. The remaining embryos are then recommended to be frozen or banked in a vapour-based liquid nitrogen base at a temperature of below 196°C for up to five years. These embryos can be thawed for use at a later time when the couple is ready for another child.
A diagnosis of cancer, especially at a young age is devastating. One of the side effects of cancer, or more specifically, treatment of cancer, is infertility. Depending on the types of cancers, most treatments may greatly reduce or even completely remove the men or women’s ability to conceive. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery may be required in treatment of cancers.
The effects of chemotherapy depends on the age, drug type, and duration of treatment. Some women may have irregular menses or cessation of periods during chemotherapy. Menses may continue after the treatment. However she may be at risk of premature menopause as her egg supply may have been affected. In male patients who have had undergone chemotherapy, the tissues producing sperms may also sustain irreversible damage.
Radiotherapy to the pelvic area may temporarily or permanently damage reproductive organs. Certain surgeries, eg, hysterectomy or removal of ovaries may also affect the ability to conceive later.
For male patients after puberty, sperm freezing is an option before undergoing cancer treatment.
If cancer treatment has affected the ovaries or testicular function, anonymous donors can be used to get a pregnancy.
For single women, they may wish to retrieve and freeze their eggs, and stored for use in the future, after cancer is in remission. As hormones used in egg freezing treatment may not be suitable in certain cancers, egg freezing is not an option for all patients.
For couples who may want to have children in the future, they may undergo an IVF cycle, retrieve some eggs, and fertilise them with their partner’s sperm. The resulting healthy embryos can be frozen, and replaced after treatment of cancer is completed a few years later. As hormones used in IVF treatment may not be suitable in certain cancers, embryo freezing is not an option for all patients.
Discussing your problems trying to conceive with those closest to you such as your partner is difficult enough, what more discussing them with strangers. This is where fertility counselling can make a difference.
Our fertility counsellors understand that couples with fertility problems may be struggling with complex emotions such as guilt, anxiety, depression and anger. Fertility treatment can often be stressful and couples will need to know what to expect before beginning treatment. Having someone to discuss openly about intimate issues will help lessen the fear and make patients feel less alone in their fertility journey.
Before beginning fertility treatments, it is important to first prime the body so that it is at optimal health to receive a new life. Nutrition plays an important role in ensuring your body is healthy enough to successfully carry a pregnancy to delivery. It also ensures that your baby is healthy during pregnancy.
Our dietician will advise you on the kind of foods to take and what to avoid before, during and after your fertility treatment and pregnancy. Remember to inform the dietician if you are taking any supplements or medications, whether you consume alcohol and your common food choices.
Thanks to our solid track record as the largest fertility centre in Malaysia and having created over 3800 IVF babies, TMC Fertility Centre has a robust support group consisting of previous patients (and their bouncy babies!) This support group provides emotional and psychological support to other women or couples who may be facing trouble before, during or after their treatment process.
Talking to someone in the same boat will help you realise you are not alone and remind you not to give up hope too quickly. Members of the TMC support group are ever willing to share their challenges, triumphs and experiences with couples or women who are considering or are currently undergoing fertility treatments.