Fertility Preservation – should I do it?

May 19, 2015 - 10:50am

Fertility Preservation – should I do it?

More and more women delaying having children, with many now opting to place their biological clocks on hold and freeze their eggs. In our busy, career oriented world, a woman may find herself reaching her mid-thirties, not in a relationship, or simply is not yet ready to have children. In such case, having her eggs frozen provides a peace of mind in delaying motherhood.


When is the best time to have it done?

A woman is born with a predetermined number of eggs, which are depleted over her lifetime. It has been found that by the age a woman is 30 she loses 88% of her eggs. By the age of 40 only 3% left of the two million eggs she was born with. Furthermore, the quality of a woman’s eggs deteriorates with age.

For this reason this procedure is not suitable for all women. It is a good option for women in late 20s to mid 30s, when the egg health is still high quality. However, in women 40 years old and over the quality and number of eggs has already deteriorated. At that point it may not be a practical option for as eggs do not survive or the ovarian egg reserve is too low.

Moreover, a new study has come out suggesting that

the most cost-effective age to freeze eggs for a woman is 37 years old.

This report has taken all the important factors into the account: cost of the treatment, likelihood of using the frozen eggs, egg reserve and its quality, and chances of getting pregnant natually.

What does this process involve?

1) Getting a GP referral to an IVF specialist.

2) IVF specialist may undertake certain investigations to check where your fertility is in relation to the age. Some of the blood tests performed may include: woman’s hormonal profile, Anti-mullarelial-hormone (AMH), which assesses woman’s reserve of eggs left and Pelvic ultrasound to check the health of ovaries.

3) The egg freezing process: Women self-administer injections for 10 to 12 days of hormones to stimulate ovaries. Mature eggs produced are then retrieved on a particular day in a minor procedure by a specialist. This is done under sedation.

4) The eggs are then frozen in a laboratory and stored.

How much does it cost?

Egg freezing to preserve fertility for social reasons is not covered by Medicare in Australia and can cost around $10 000. Women also have to understand that whilst the method is safe and effective nothing can be guaranteed 100%. Nevertheless, it gives women a choice to have insurance policy to have a family.

What’s our future prediction?

Fertility preservation is a growing area with lots of research looking into various ways of how to achieve egg freezing. Women are continuously increasing the age to have children, egg freezing is likely to become a routine part of women’s health in the future and even become more popular than IVF.

To find out more:

Melbourne IVF specialists are experts in the field of egg freezing process. It is a growing area with lots of research looking into various ways of how to achieve egg freezing with maximum success. If you are considering an egg freeze the best thing to do is to get a GP referral and see an IVF specialist. To find out more go to: http://mivf.com.au/fertility-treatment/fertility-preservation 

Dr.Alex Polyakov is one of the Melbourne IVF specialists: http://www.dralexpolyakov.com.au

Is fertility preservation something that you are considering or have done? Let us know if you have any further questions. 

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Mediterranean diet - can it influence IVF results?

Jan 24, 2015 - 4:45pm

Mediterranean diet - can it influence IVF results?

Mediterranean diet rich in omega-3 fish oil and vitamin D and effect on fertility for women and couples undergoing In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).

Common sense would suggest that preconception health of both women and men could play a role in the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatment outcome. We all know that a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition influences the quality of egg and sperm, therefore increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy.

What is a Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean style diet is high in fruits, vegetables, fish, wholegrain, nuts and seeds. It is limited in red meat, dairy, alcohol and processed foods such as cakes and mayonnaise.

Currents evidence links preconception Mediterranean style diet in couples undergoing ART treatment increased chances of achieving pregnancy.

How does it work?
Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from oily fish sources such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, nuts and seeds. Omega-3 serves as a precursor to different prostaglandins (PGs) that are important in the menstrual cycle, growth and development of eggs and initiation of the ovulation. PGs also play a role in fertilization of the embryo in the uterus.

Vitamin D is derived from dietary oily fish and eggs. It appears to impact IVF outcomes by boosting levels of progesterone and estrogen, which regulates menstrual cycles improving the chance of conception.

You may be thinking what about men? Vitamin D also benefits semen quality and count in males. Additionally, it increases levels of testosterone, boosting libido.

Current guidelines suggest to pre-screen all women before any IVF treatment. Optimal vitamin D levels are considered to be 75m/mol or above. Common recommended supplement vitamin D doses range from 1000-5000iu a day. Dosages recommended in infertility depends on the blood levels. If you are very deficient it may be hard to obtain sufficient amounts of Vitamin D from the diet alone and supplements are highly recommended.

But, do these positive results from dietary omega-3 and vitamin D, translate into positive results from supplementation?

The answer is we don’t know yet. Vitamins and minerals absorb more effectively from food sources. There are other co-factors in food that increase vitamin and nutrient activation in the body. Nevertheless, both omega-3 and vitamin D supplements have a low side effects profile and are safe before, during and after (breastfeeding stage) pregnancy.

One other likely benefit of the Mediterranean diet to fertility is its high vitamin B content. Vitamin B6 and B12, as well as Folate, is required to breakdown homocysteine, a naturally occurring amino acid found in blood plasma. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with adverse reproductive and pregnancy outcomes. This is why adequate intake of Folate, B6 and B12 is recommended for women who are trying to conceive either spontaneously or via IVF.

What does this mean if you’re undergoing IVF?
Following a Mediterranean diet may increase your chances of achieving pregnancy through IVF. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D play an important role though further research is still required to confirm this link.

Currently there are no specific guidelines on what constitutes a Mediterranean diet and optimal quantities of certain foods in order to make a routine recommendation. IVF patients may benefit from a nutrition assessment by a clinical dietitian or a naturopath who can review their dietary habits and develop a food plan.

In the case of Vitamin D, given the current prevalence of deficiency in sub-fertile women and men, and difficulty deriving enough from diet alone, supplementation alongside ART treatment may be recommended in most cases.

1. Mediterranean diet trial targets IVF boost. The Australian. 25 Mar 2014. Available: [http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/mediterranean-diet-trial-targets-ivf-boost/story-fn3dxix6-1226864778849]. Accessed: [27 Mar 2014].

2. Vujkovic M, De Vries JH, Lindemans J, Macklon NS, Van Der Spek PJ, Steegers EA, Steegers-Theunissen PM. The preconception Mediterranean dietary pattern in couples undergoing in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection treatment increases the change of pregnancy. Fertility and sterility Vol. 94, No 6, November 2010.

3. Lerchbaum E, Obermayer-Pietsch B. Vitamin D and fertility – a systematic review. European Society of Endocrinology. 24 January 2012.

4. Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council. Clinical Practice guideline: Antenatal Care – Module 1. Australian Government Department of Health and Aging, Canberra. 31 August 2012. Available: [www.health.gov.au/antenatal]. Accessed: [27 Mar 2014].

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