Fertility Preservation

Pregnancy Miracle

The Pregnancy Miracle by Lisa Olson

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In the modern era, cancer is a common lethal disease. It was estimated that in 2003 over 650,000 new cases of female cancer were diagnosed in the United States. An encouraging fact is that during the last three decades, a tremendous improvement in the success rates of cancer treatments has resulted in a steady increase in the survival rates. Although the agents used for treatment of many types of cancer are successful in up to 95% of patients, they unfortunately carry a considerable risk of causing the loss of future fertility potential. Because many cancer patients are in the early reproductive age group, they would like to have the option to preserve their fertility potential to allow them to lead a future normal, healthy life. Mature oocytes could be harvested from ovaries of cancer patients after controlled ovarian hyperstimulation. However, there are two major drawbacks associated with conventional IVF; first, the time interval needed for IVF ranges from 2 to 6 weeks beginning with the patient's next menstrual period, which may sometimes be too long due to the natural course of the malignant disease without therapy. Second, ovarian hyperstimulation is associated with high estradiol levels which may not be safe in some cases of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer. Ovarian stimulation for oocyte collection could be totally avoided by collecting immature oocytes (51). We recently reported the retrieval of immature oocytes from unstimulated ovaries before gonado-toxic therapy for oocyte vitrification purposes (52). This resulted in the successful preservation of fertility with no delay in chemotherapy, no surgery, and no necessity for hormonal stimulation. Since that report, 26 cancer patients have undergone immature and mature oocyte collection from totally unstimulated ovaries. Collection can be performed during the follicu-lar phase prior to ovulation for normal ovulating patients and on almost any given day for PCOS patients (51,52). The immature oocytes are then matured in vitro. The oocytes can either be fertilized utilizing the partner's sperm and the resulting embryos cryopreserved or, if the patient does not have a partner, the mature oocytes are vitrified. Vitrification of oocytes collected from unstimulated ovaries seems like a promising procedure for preservation of fertility, as this technique avoids hormonal stimulation and is not associated with considerable delay in cancer treatment. Vitrification of the matured oocytes will hopefully yield much higher oocyte survival and pregnancy rates than do the currently used methods (51).

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Pregnancy Guide

Pregnancy Guide

A Beginner's Guide to Healthy Pregnancy. If you suspect, or know, that you are pregnant, we ho pe you have already visited your doctor. Presuming that you have confirmed your suspicions and that this is your first child, or that you wish to take better care of yourself d uring pregnancy than you did during your other pregnancies; you have come to the right place.

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