All Medical Procedures

Egg freezing, also known as mature oocyte cryopreservation, is a method used to preserve a woman's reproductive potential.

Eggs are harvested from your ovaries, frozen unfertilized and stored for later use. A frozen egg can be thawed, combined with sperm in a lab and implanted in your uterus (in vitro fertilization).

However, only a small portion of eggs that are frozen, thawed and implanted result in the birth of a baby. Egg freezing can also be expensive.

Your doctor can help you understand how egg freezing works, the potential risks and whether this method of fertility preservation is right for you.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted in your uterus. One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks.

IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. The procedure can be done using your own eggs and your partner's sperm. Or IVF may involve eggs, sperm or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. In some cases, a gestational carrier — a woman who has an embryo implanted in her uterus — might be used.

Your chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on many factors, such as your age and the cause of infertility. In addition, IVF can be time-consuming, expensive and invasive. If more than one embryo is implanted in your uterus, IVF can result in a pregnancy with more than one fetus (multiple pregnancy).

Your doctor can help you understand how IVF works, the potential risks and whether this method of treating infertility is right for you.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) — a type of artificial insemination — is a procedure for treating infertility. Sperm that have been washed and concentrated are placed directly in your uterus around the time your ovary releases one or more eggs to be fertilized. Older types of artificial insemination placed the sperm in the vagina. While this was easier, it was not as successful as the current procedure.

The hoped-for outcome of intrauterine insemination is for the sperm to swim into the fallopian tube and fertilize a waiting egg, resulting in a normal pregnancy. Depending on the reasons for infertility, IUI can be coordinated with your normal cycle or with fertility medications.

Sperm donation is a procedure in which a man donates semen — the fluid released during ejaculation — to help an individual or a couple conceive a baby.

Donated sperm can be injected into a woman's reproductive organs (intrauterine insemination) or used to fertilize mature eggs in a lab (in vitro fertilization). The use of donated sperm is known as third party reproduction.

A man who makes a sperm donation can be known or anonymous to the recipient. Sperm donations made to a known recipient are called directed donations.

You must be screened for medical conditions and other risk factors before you can make a sperm donation. It's also important to understand the possible emotional, psychological and legal issues of sperm donation.