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When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I was told that I’d need 16 rounds of chemotherapy as part of my rigorous treatment. I was horrified to learn that this aggressive protocol could potentially ruin my fertility forever. That’s when I knew that I’d have to freeze my eggs immediately if I was ever going to conceive a child of my own in the future. 

Going into all of this, I had absolutely no idea what the egg freezing process would entail. I also didn’t realize that I’d be able to choose between freezing eggs or take it a step further with frozen embryos.

Here’s what I learned after going through the entire egg freezing process myself. 

Freezing Eggs to Preserve Fertility

To be perfectly honest, I had actually already thought about freezing my eggs before I was ever diagnosed with cancer. I was happily engaged to the love of my life and my career was really taking off. Life was pretty much as happy as it could be, and I wasn’t quite ready to slow down the fun. 

I always knew that I’d want to have a child of my own eventually. Since I was 38, I knew I had better make a decision on freezing eggs sooner than later. 

When the cancer diagnosis came, it just sped up the process of what I was already considering. I’m so glad that I was able to do it before I started chemotherapy. For anyone looking to freeze their eggs, CCRM is a great choice as they’ve been a leader in fertility treatment for more than 30 years and the whole process is done under one roof and on your timeline.

Freezing Eggs vs Frozen Embryos

Did you know that when going through the egg freezing process that you have the option between freezing eggs or that you can choose frozen embryos?

If you’re single, or if you’re not 1000% committed to your partner, then freezing eggs would probably be the best option for you. You’ll be able to store your eggs for as long as you like until Mr. Right decides to come along.

If you’re married, or if you absolutely know that you’ve found the one, then frozen embryos are a much better choice. Here’s why.

During the egg retrieval process, you can seem to get a decent number of eggs for future use. It all sounds fine and dandy until you go to the next step. Once the eggs are fertilized, things can really start to change. 

For instance, when I went through the egg freezing process myself, we were able to retrieve what seemed to be 8 healthy eggs. Sounds great, right?! Well, not so fast. 

First off, one egg wasn’t looking so great, so it was automatically ruled out. Then we were down to 7 eggs. Then all 7 eggs were fertilized by the lovely sperm of my fiancé, Jacob. I’ve found my Prince Charming already, so I was happy with my choice of frozen embryos. 😉 

After the fertilization process, 3 of the embryos arrested, meaning they pretty much stopped developing altogether. We knew we had one shot at freezing eggs before I started chemotherapy, and the doctors had warned me beforehand that this could potentially happen.

Another embryo wasn’t showing signs of being healthy, so it was also ruled out.

And Then There Were 3…

We were told that the 3 embryos left looked really great. They were ready to be stored right away, or we could choose at this point to go forward with preimplantation chromosomal testing. 

Testing for chromosomal abnormalities came with an extra fee, but we knew it was worth it because we wanted to ensure the best possible outcome for our future. Thank God that we trusted our gut on this one because we were completely surprised by what we found out.

Testing Embryos for Chromosomal Abnormalities

Jacob and I sat in the doctor’s office, hand in hand, waiting for the doctor to give us the results. I felt so nervous, holding Jacob’s hand tighter and tighter as she delivered the news. 

Through the testing, we discovered that 2 out of our 3 embryos had chromosomal abnormalities.

Once again, my heart sank to the floor for the millionth time during this crazy rollercoaster cancer process. 

There was only 1 single embryo left. 

I held my breath as I prayed that it would be ok. 

My heart raced as she handed me an envelope with a piece of paper inside. I opened it up to find the news that our last little embryo was doing really well.

I was so relieved when the doctor confirmed that our last embryo would be a great viable option for us to use in the future. 

At least now we had one decent shot at this. Maybe one day I could finally be a mother, just like I’ve always wanted to be.

Preimplantation Genetic Testing Can Screen for Cancer Genes

Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) is also an option that should be considered when you choose frozen embryos. Thankfully, I don’t carry the BRCA gene mutations or any of the other cancer genes, so I’m not able to pass them along to our embryos.

If I had tested positive for any of the cancer genes, CCRM’s Hereditary Cancer and Disease Prevention Lab would be able to test our embryos for these genes too.

You may not realize that this is something you can do even if you don’t have any fertility issues. If you do carry these genes, you’d NEVER want to pass them along to your precious little one, if you were given a choice in the matter. The amazing thing that I’ve learned, is that this choice IS available to all of us!

Cancer is AWFUL and I don’t wish this experience on my worst enemy, much less my own child. I know that if I carried these genes, you better believe I’d be doing anything in my power to keep it away from my family, at any cost. 

PGT Screening Helps You Make the BEST Choice

With PGT, CCRM can screen your embryos to avoid passing cancer mutations on to the next generation and all subsequent generations. 

You now have an AMAZING opportunity to eliminate cancer mutations from your entire family tree forever! What a gift that would be to your beautiful child!

Plus, the process is super simple. PGT is easily performed simultaneously with the frozen embryo process and will also work with women choosing in-vitro fertilization (IVF). 

PGT determines if the inherited cancer mutation has been passed on to an embryo by screening a few cells from a 5 or 6-day old embryo. 

Once you have the results, you can then simply choose to transfer the unaffected, cancer mutation-free embryos for implantation, or store them for future use. 

The process does NOT involve genetically modifying human embryos in any way whatsoever! You simply just choose the BEST embryo for your family based on the data collected, just as we did. 

With this amazing technology, we have a chance of eventually eradicating inheritable cancers from families for generations to come! 

CCRM offers all types of egg/embryo freezing services for anyone looking to preserve their fertility. 

The Egg Freezing Process is the Same for Frozen Embryos

No matter whether you’ve decided upon freezing eggs or frozen embryos, the retrieval process is the same. Your doctor will run some bloodwork and perform an ultrasound to determine the best medication protocol for you to follow. 

Stimulation medications are typically injected, by you, at home, 2-3 times a day, for up to 2 weeks. You’ll continue to be monitored closely through lab work and ultrasounds to follow the growth of your eggs.

Once your doctor sees that your body is ready, you’ll then be scheduled within days for the final egg retrieval. 

The Egg Freezing Process - Freezing Eggs or Frozen Embryos
Egg Retrieval Day

Egg Retrieval Day

The final step of the egg freezing process is egg retrieval day. This procedure occurs under full anesthesia, so you’ll stop eating and drinking around midnight the night before your surgery. You’ll get an IV in the operating room, and you’ll drift off to sleep. 

While you’re peacefully dreaming of cooing beautiful babies, your doctors will get to work using ultrasound guidance to carefully aspirate each egg from your ovaries.

The eggs will then be transferred quickly to the embryologist who is waiting patiently in the operating room with you. When you wake up from your dreams, it’ll be taken care of, and you can start to set your mind at ease.

You most likely won’t have too much pain after, but you need to take it easy. No working out for about a week. After my egg retrieval, if I stepped too hard on my stairs at home, I felt some sensitivity in my uterus. There was no real chance of me working out at all. 😉  

Tylenol and rest pretty much did the trick. You’ll probably be a little bloated afterward, and this can last for up to 2 weeks. Allow yourself to rest and recover. 

Freezing the Eggs or Frozen Embryos Until Implantation

After it’s all said and done, your eggs will be evaluated for maturity and either fertilized as embryos or loaded into the egg freezing tubes. If you’re freezing just the eggs, then they will be rapidly cooled through a freezing technique called vitrification. 

Once they are frozen, your eggs will remain in a secure, environmentally-controlled storage for as long as you like, until you are ready to recover them.

If you choose frozen embryos, then your eggs will be fertilized and then will go through the process of proving viability. This is the point at which you’ll want to do any of the preimplantation genetic testing, such as screening for cancer genes, chromosomal abnormalities, or determining the gender, etc. 

Getting Pregnant!

Once you decide that your little eggs or embryos have been chillin’ (literally!) for long enough, then you’re ready to start the transfer process. 

Once again you’ll go through another protocol of strict medications, lab work, and ultrasounds. Once your body is ready to go, you’ll schedule the surgery for implantation.

And Guess What Y’all?!

Personally, I’ll be so excited when this day comes. Once I’m finally done with all of my treatment, I know I’ll be ready to become a mother. 

I also have a little secret that I’ve been keeping to myself, but I’m ready to share it with you now. 

We did find out the gender of our one little embryo. 

And guess what?

It’s a GIRL! ☺

The Egg Freezing Process - Freezing Eggs or Frozen Embryos

This post was created with love, in partnership with CCRM.

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