You are starting to fight for your life following a cancer diagnosis. You have a family history of early menopause and want to increase your chances of having a successful pregnancy. Or perhaps you just see pregnancy in your future rather than your present. If you fall into any of these categories, fertility preservation may be able to help.
What are my options for fertility preservation?
Following are two of the most common fertility preservation procedures that can increase your chances of establishing a successful and healthy pregnancy when the time is right for you:
- Oocyte (egg) freezing
Women can harvest multiple eggs through nearly the same hormone-injection process as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Through a series of steps, generally, the eggs are stimulated, matured, harvested and promptly frozen. This procedure is becoming increasingly common, with an egg survival rate of over 92 percent.
- Sperm cryopreservation (sperm freezing)
In the general freezing process for sperm, the sperm is collected, carefully labeled, and cryopreserved for future use. We have been freezing sperm for decades, and scientists confirm that sperm continue to tolerate the process well.
Who should consider fertility preservation?
Fertility preservation can help the following individuals:
- Men and women (of childbearing age) diagnosed with cancer
Many cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery have a considerable impact on fertility and the hormonal system and often result in ovarian damage and premature menopause in women of childbearing age (about 38 years and younger). Opting for a fertility preservation procedure prior to the start of cancer treatment can help increase patients’ likelihood of having children after they are cancer-free.
- Couples and individuals who want to conceive at a certain stage in their lives
Fertility declines with age, so freezing eggs at an early reproductive stage increases the patient’s chance of having a healthy pregnancy at the preferred time.
- Women with a family history of early menopause
As many forms of early menopause (premature ovarian failure) are genetic, women who know they have a family history of it can turn to egg freezing in their earlier reproductive years in order to save some eggs in case their supply depletes prematurely.
Building your family is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. And now, thanks to the marvels of modern fertility preservation, you can defy the odds and start building that family when the time is right for you.
I’m not ready to have kids now. How do I protect my fertility for the future?
Preservation methods like egg and sperm freezing are elective options that offer men and women under the age of 35 the chance to achieve reproductive dependability. Egg freezing is a process that stores healthy, unfertilized eggs for years to come so couples are not pressured to conceive at an inopportune time.
What can I do to protect my fertility if I’m about to undergo cancer treatment?
Cancer and cancer treatments can significantly affect fertility and the body’s hormone system. If you or your partner is diagnosed with cancer and have to undergo cancer treatments, you can opt for egg preservation methods much the same way you would to normally plan for a later pregnancy. Our fertility preservation options, including egg vitrification, can be effectively employed prior to chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Our procedures frequently work even if the patient doesn’t come in until after cancer treatments have started. Men undergoing surgery or cancer treatment also have fertility preservation options, including sperm banking, testicular tissue freezing and testicular sperm extraction.