Fertility preservation has created exciting possibilities for couples who might have been biologically thwarted otherwise. While typically considered an alternative for individuals facing cancer treatments that pose a threat to their fertility, it is also available for a host of other reasons.
Should I Consider Fertility Preservation?
If you feel you are a candidate or would like to learn more about the process, search for a fertility clinic that specializes in fertility preservation to learn more and to ensure the best possible pregnancy outcome for you and your partner. The methods used to preserve fertility include:
- Embryo cryopreservation.
- Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation).
- Gonadal shielding.
- Ovarian transposition (oophoropexy).
- Radical trachelectomy
- Sperm banking
- ovarian tissue cryopreservation
- testicular tissue freezing
Some of these procedures, like testicular freezing, are more experimental and have lower success rates than other methods.
Here are some examples of the situations that most typically lead to conversations about fertility preservation.
One or the other has been diagnosed with cancer. Treatments for cancer continue to improve with every passing day and the forms of chemotherapy and radiation available to cancer patients now is quite different than even 10 years ago. Even so, whether your cancer requires chemotherapy, radiation, or the surgical removal of vital reproductive organs, there are steps you can take to protect your ability to have a baby. Your fertility specialist will talk to you about the type of cancer you have, treatment options and their potential effect on your own fertility so you can get a good idea of which preservation method is optimal for you.
You have a pre-existing medical condition. Certain medical conditions can make it more difficult to conceive. As a result, fertility preservation is an option for those who have been diagnosed with other medical conditions, or who may be on medications or treatments known to interfere with conception. These include things like lupus, glomerulonephritis, myelodysplasia, or adolescent females diagnosed with conditions associated with premature ovarian failure, such as Turner mosaicism.
You are on the career path. If you are currently in school and/or working towards a career that is not conducive to pregnancy and motherhood, you may need to put conception on the back burner for a while. Unfortunately, that back burner cools considerably after you turn 35 and cools almost completely after age 40. For this reason, many women on the career track opt to freeze their eggs. This allows them to use assisted reproductive technology (ART) later on with the same success rates attributed to her age when the eggs were harvested. For example, a 42 year-old woman who uses eggs from a 29-year old egg donor benefits from the same success rates experienced by 29-year old women who undergo IVF with their own eggs. In the case of fertility preservation, you are your own egg donor.
You have found “The One” yet. As they say, it takes two to tango. Unfortunately, Mr. Right doesn’t always arrive in time with your biological clock. If you are 30 and have yet to meet the love of your life, you might want to consider oocyte (egg) preservation so you can have healthy eggs on hand if he comes along later in life and the two of you have a hard time conceiving naturally.
Want to learn more about the ins-and-outs of fertility preservation? Check out the book recently edited by our own fertility preservation specialist, Dr. Kim. While it’s written like a text book, the average researcher was kept in mind so the pictures, diagrams and easy-to-follow text is a wonderful resource for couples interested in this revolutionary ART.
Contact RRC if you would like to learn more about your fertility preservation options.