Cryopreservation of eggs (oocytes), embryos and sperm allow patients to protect their future fertility. The two main reasons patients choose fertility preservation are for medical necessity and social or lifestyle choices.
Patients who are set to undergo certain cancer treatments are also faced with making a decision about fertility. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and some surgeries can endanger reproductive health and cause irreversible damage in both female and male patients. The American Cancer Society suggests healthcare providers counsel their patients on the risk of infertility and the assisted reproductive strategies that are available to patients as soon as possible after initial cancer diagnosis.
Many women are delaying motherhood for several reasons including personal, education, career or not having yet found a suitable partner. While women are empowered to put off having a child until a later age, the natural age-related decline in female fertility still persists. According to the Center for Disease Control “there were more than nine times as many first births to mothers 35 and older than there were in the 1970s.”
Fertility begins to decline for women in their 30s and even more rapidly after age 35. Fertility preservation is a viable option for women who have decided ahead of time that they will wait until a later age to start their families.
Sperm cryopreservation has been around for several decades and is known to be viable after being frozen for an indefinite number of years. Patients can either provide a sample to be frozen or sperm can be retrieved via a surgical sperm retrieval (i.e. PESA, TESE, MESA). Cryopreserved sperm can be later thawed and used in both Intrauterine Insemination and In Vitro Fertilization procedures without causing problems with the sperm of future offspring.
Female patients have the option of either freezing their eggs through Oocyte Cryopreservation or freezing embryos (fertilized eggs). Eggs are retrieved from the ovary and either frozen, or fertilized and then frozen. As of 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has declared that egg freezing is no longer experimental and have announced that egg freezing is now an acceptable fertility treatment. Due to scientific advancements such as vitrification (extremely rapid freezing of oocytes and embryos), pregnancy rates as well as health of delivered babies have proven oocyte cryopreservation to be a safe and viable option.
Through partnership with the non-profit organization Livestrong Cancer Program, we are able to offer reduced cost fertility preservation treatments.
Whether a patient defers parenthood by choice or due to their fertility being at risk, there are options available at Brown Fertility to meet the patient’s needs.