What is fertility preservation?
Fertility preservation is the process of freezing eggs, sperm or embryos and storing them for future use (cryopreservation). When they are needed, the eggs, sperm or embryos may be thawed and used in a fertility treatment procedure called in vitro fertilization (IVF). Dr. Tan and his colleagues at OriginElle are world leaders in fertility preservation.
To collect a woman’s eggs (oocytes) for cryopreservation, medication is prescribed to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs. The eggs are removed and preserved through a freezing process and the eggs are then stored until needed by the woman or couple for IVF.
Prior to the freezing process, the woman’s eggs are combined and fertilized with her partner’s sperm in the fertility clinic lab. The resulting embryos are cultured for a few days to allow them to grow (the same process used in IVF), then frozen and stored for future use when the couple desires to use them for the final stage of IVF (transferring the embryo(s) to the woman’s uterus).
The man can provide a sperm sample for freezing through natural means. If no sperm are present in the sample or if the man cannot ejaculate, a surgical sperm extraction technique may be used.
When is fertility preservation recommended?
The most pressing need for fertility preservation is generally right before cancer treatments begin. Both chemotherapy and radiation have the potential to damage a person’s fertility or cause infertility if the treatment affects the reproductive cells or tissue. Women with other medical conditions where treatment can reduce fertility should also consider fertility preservation.
Other reasons to preserve fertility can be for lifestyle, social or career reasons.
Risks of fertility preservation
Freezing eggs, sperm and embryos has become a perfected process and is very safe. The risks of complicated pregnancies or birth or genetic defects with cryopreserved eggs, sperm, or embryos is the same as in conventional IVF technologies.