The Fertility Center of Chattanooga reports the very first pregnancy in the area for a patient who conceived using frozen eggs in an assisted reproduction cycle.
The woman, whose identity is protected by privacy laws, was referred to the clinic to benefit from advanced reproductive technologies, officials said.
Her pregnancy is progressing on schedule, and she has been returned to her doctor for obstetrical care.
Tina Smith, spokesperson, said, "This milestone comes after years of success with frozen sperm and frozen embryos at the Fertility Center, which has offices in both Chattanooga and Knoxville.
"The human egg is a delicate, comparatively large cell. Traditionally, attempts in the research world to freeze a retrieved female gamete turned the egg into a fragile, glass-like state that could not survive the thawing process.
"The physicians and embryologist at the Fertility Center partnered with leading experts in oocyte cryopreservation who fine-tuned the freezing process. Now the Fertility Center has confirmation in its own Chattanooga lab for freezing eggs before fertilizing with sperm. As needed, the eggs are thawed and fertilized to create embryos that are then transferred to the uterus for a pregnancy attempt.
"With this method, fewer extra embryos are created or need to be stored. More and more patients are favoring this option that avoids some of the ethical dilemmas surrounding frozen embryos."
Reproductive Endocrinologists Dr. Joey Bird and Dr. Barry Donesky and Embryologist Susan Walker were involved in the cutting-edge infertility treatment and related procedures.
Ms. Smith said, "Pregnancy rates with the new method compare very favorably to success rates with frozen embryos. Cryopreservation can suspend the biological clock for eggs, so to speak, and keep the quality of those eggs from diminishing while in frozen storage. Along with women diagnosed as infertile, others who can benefit from this technology include those who have not yet found a life partner or are not ready to conceive but are concerned about their decreasing chances for pregnancy after age 35. Additionally, cancer victims can safeguard their chances for motherhood before undergoing surgery, radiation or chemotherapy treatments that might damage the ovaries or even cause sterility."