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Family Health: Ways to Preserve Fertility

As more women postpone having a family, they are getting more options to preserve their eggs.
Little Rock, AR --  If you're looking to potentially preserve fertility, egg freezing may be an option. Women can actually freeze their eggs until they're ready to start a family down the road whether it's for medical or personal reasons.

"We've started freezing for women who can look ahead and know that they are, for a variety of social reasons, not able to plan and become pregnant until they're into their 30's and early 40's,"  say Dr. Cynthia Austin with the Cleveland Clinic. 

Egg freezing was considered experimental until last fall.  It requires stimulating the ovary using hormone injections  to produce more eggs than it normally would. 

The eggs are removed or 'retrieved' - when they are mature - and are frozen for later use.

Dr. Austin says once you freeze eggs, they don't age.

"If a woman is 33, she has an IVF cycle, and freezes her eggs, when they are thawed and fertilized, they will perform as well when she's 45 as they did when she was 33 and made the eggs. So essentially she's functioning as her own egg donor." 

Dr. Austin says it's important to keep in mind that not all frozen eggs can fertilize when thawed but egg freezing does give women another chance if they hope to have children in the future.

Egg freezing is also an option for women undergoing cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, which can harm fertility. 

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