Preserving your fertility and how we can help

Andrew Drakeley

Posted by Andrew Drakeley

13 April 2018

Freezing embryos is something we do every day here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre. We are one of the biggest and most well-equipped clinics in the UK, dealing with both egg and sperm freezing. But why do we do it?

Egg freezing is offered for a number of reasons, most commonly:

  • Medical complications that could lead to fertility problems – cancer and consequently, chemotherapy, can severely harm fertility. Egg freezing can offer women the ability to give birth to a child without the use of donor eggs after having their ovaries removed or having their fertility damaged by chemotherapy.
  • Undergoing sexual transition – the storage of eggs or sperm can give transitioning people the opportunity to conceive a child of their own after the transition is complete.
  • To assist somebody by donating their eggs – some women make the noble decision to donate their eggs to either a friend or family member, or even to a stranger via the UK donor network (Read on for more information on that below)
  • Risk of injury or death – for example, if you are a member of the armed forces, stationed in a war zone, egg freezing could give your partner the ability to carry on your family if the worst should happen.
  • Declining fertility – one of the reasons that we freeze eggs is because the woman is simply not ready to have a child. Whether it is for career or financial reasons, or just through freedom of choice, more and more women are taking the option to have children later in life.

We see patients freezing their eggs for all of the reasons listed above, though the final point is increasingly common. Sadly, once a woman is 35, her ability to conceive naturally is greatly reduced. However, with egg freezing technologies improving drastically in recent years, women no longer need to feel pressured into making the time-sensitive decision between starting a family or pursuing different lifestyle and career opportunities.

You may wish to explore opportunities that are not conducive with having a child, whilst not giving up the possibility of ever becoming pregnant – egg freezing and fertility preservation can give you this power of choice.

How does the process of egg freezing work?

The egg freezing process may seem relatively straightforward, but behind-the-scenes quite complicated scientific and medical procedures, as well as complex equipment, have needed to be developed to make it possible. The egg is the largest cell in the human body and also contains a lot of water, which can cause complications if freezing is not done properly. For example, crystals can form inside the egg as the water begins to freeze, potentially leading to unsuccessful pregnancies.

Here at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, we use a process of dehydrating the cell before freezing and then using a method called Vitrification, where the egg is frozen down to a temperature of -196°C very quickly. Combined, this allows us to ensure the safety of the egg from the moment of extraction, up to ten years into the future.

Modern incubation techniques utilised within our lab mean that, after being extracted, we can examine the quality and suitability of the eggs as well as testing for abnormalities that may lead to genetic disorders in the future. After these examinations are carried out, the eggs are placed into storage tanks filled with liquid nitrogen, which cools them down to the desired temperature, and they are then kept for as long as is required.

Male fertility preservation

We understand that when the conversation turns to fertility treatment and fertility preservation, more often than not all of the focus is on women. Here at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, an entire branch of our clinic is dedicated to the treatment of male fertility problems as well as sperm treatment and preservation techniques.

Our Andrology lab is staffed by a team of scientists and doctors who dedicate themselves to ensuring that any issues you may have are dealt with by means of specialised, male-only procedures and treatments.

Some of our male fertility treatments include:

  • Surgical Sperm Recovery or Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE) is a surgical technique used to retrieve sperm directly from the testicle. The sperm may be present but due to low sperm numbers or a blockage the sperm is not found in the ejaculate. Surgical Sperm Recovery can also be an option following an unsuccessful vasectomy reversal.
  • Sperm Washing. Thanks to our purpose-built laboratory, we are able to treat virus positive patients. Sperm Washing therapy greatly reduces the risk of potentially passing HIV from the male to the female partner and unborn child, by using technology to wash the sperm of the virus. As well as this, our state of the art laboratories can also help HIV positive women and also both men and women who are Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C positive.
  • Sperm Freezing. Sperm freezing is the potential solution for a range of male fertility issues; from men undergoing surgery that may cause problems, to those that work in hazardous environments such as the armed forces, or for those not yet ready to become a parent but preparing for the future. Sperm freezing ensures healthy, mobile sperm for use in fertilisation whenever the patient is ready. Our cryogenic laboratory is a state of the art facility with success rates up to and above the industry standard giving you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your chances of having a child in the future are not lost.
  • Transitioning treatments. We also offer transitioning individuals the opportunity to preserve their own sperm for building a family later on in life, just as we would in the case of egg freezing for transitioning women.

Read more about how a man’s fertility journey is just as important as a woman’s here.

The role of donors

Something we proudly welcome here at The Hewitt Centre is people who take the admirable step of becoming donors. Thousands suffer with fertility issues nationwide and it’s with the help of the amazing people who donate their eggs and sperm that fertility problems can be overcome, helping so many to achieve their dreams of raising a family of their own. If you think you might be interested in donating your eggs or sperm, take a look at our guides for more information on how to proceed.

To learn more about what we can do to help you here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, then CLICK HERE to read about the amazing things we do, as well as the life changing technologies and treatments that we offer.

Additionally, we have a range of blogs and articles that may help to give you a deeper understanding about your own fertility, as well as helpful tips and guides to give yourself the best opportunity of having the life, and the family that you dream of.

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Andrew Drakeley

Author: Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford. He holds subspecialty accreditation in Reproductive Medicine and surgery and is a fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, being appointed Consultant in 2005.
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