Having a cancer diagnosis can be daunting for all patients, but younger patients may have questions about how treatment can affect their fertility and chances of having a family. Certain cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may impact a woman’s ability to conceive a child or maintain a pregnancy. Females who undergo cancer treatment tend to experience menopause anywhere from 5-10 years
earlier, which means the window to have a baby after cancer treatment is reduced.
Thankfully, fertility preservation methods, such as egg and embryo freezing, make it possible for women to preserve their fertility before starting cancer treatment.
The first step to arranging egg freezing for patients with cancer is to obtain a referral from your oncologist or GP to one of our specialists. Please ensure the referral states that it is for egg freezing prior to cancer treatment. Upon receiving the referral, our specialists will try to see you as soon as possible to reduce any delay in receiving your cancer treatment. An egg-freezing cycle takes approximately 2 weeks to complete, and the timing may depend on your menstrual cycle.
We appreciate that there may be time sensitivity to proceed with fertility preservation as soon as practical. We will consider this when making appointments and can fast-track appointments and treatment where necessary.
In egg freezing, daily hormone injections are given and you are monitored closely with ultrasounds and blood tests. This usually takes around 10-12 days, during which your clinician is monitoring the size of the follicles within your ovaries. Once the follicles reach an appropriate size, a trigger injection is given to start the maturation of the eggs. Your egg collection is then usually scheduled approximately 36 hours after your trigger.
Egg collections are performed in theatre using ultrasound guidance. A needle is passed through the vaginal wall and into each follicle and the eggs are extracted. The procedure will take about 20-30 minutes and is usually performed under sedation. You will need a
day or two off work for the procedure and recovery. Your clinician will discuss the medical procedure, side effects and potential risks that are involved.
The number of eggs retrieved in a single stimulation cycle will be different for each patient for a variety of reasons. This will be discussed with you by your clinician
prior to your egg collection.
City Fertility uses a process called vitrification and mature eggs are frozen on the day of egg collection.
What are the success rates using vitrified eggs?
Wider application and success with oocyte freezing depend on continued improvements in the technology
and careful selection of oocytes. While many researchers are continuing to improve the freezing process, much of the success so far has been with the use of good-quality
or young oocytes.
Studies (Rienzi et al, 2010; Cobo et al, 2011) have documented the following success rates using vitrified eggs:
A review of obstetric and perinatal outcomes in 900 infants conceived following egg vitrification cycles found no increase in miscarriage, chromosomal abnormalities or birth defects when frozen eggs were used (Noyes et al, 2009).
City Fertility follows egg storage guidelines recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC 2004). While the maximum storage period of oocytes varies between 10 years (QLD and VIC) and 15 years (NSW and WA),
this storage period can be extended by following the extension process required in each state.If you would like to extend your storage period, please contact your City Fertility team who will assist you.
If you decide to dispose of your frozen eggs, please contact your clinic to discuss the options. Signed consent forms are required prior to disposal.
Note it is also important that you keep us informed of any change to your contact details for continuing storage
If both partners die while the eggs are in storage, the eggs will be discarded.
If the patient with oocytes in storage dies, the consent signed at the time of freezing would indicate the actions to be taken. For the remaining eggs to be used by the surviving partner, City Fertility would require a court order before starting any further
treatment. We recommend you obtain legal advice about egg ownership and disposal.
Alternatives to egg freezing:
In the unfortunate event that a couple decides to separate or divorce and frozen eggs are in storage, the partner with the oocytes in storage should contact their clinic to let them know of the situation.
City Fertility has specialty fertility counsellors available for additional support if required. To browse our available counsellors, visit our Counsellors page.
Your main cycle fee with City Fertility will be bulk-billed, and we will provide the initial 6 months of storage at no extra cost.
Out-of-pocket expenses will vary depending on your treatment plan from your treating specialist. Fees external to City Fertility include specialist fees, medication fees, hospital fees and anaesthetists fees. Additional fees may apply if you require the samples to be exported to another provider.
Please note the Australian Government is currently offering an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Storage Funding Program, which assists patients who face extra costs for fertility treatment because of cancer or a genetic condition. This program aims to remove out-of-pocket costs for eligible cryostorage services for these patients. According to the program, the current funding amount is approximately $600 per year per type of material (eggs, sperm, or embryos), and patients can access funding for up to two types of material for up to 10 years.