There are several reasons to consider fertility preservation
We have a fertility preservation program in place that involves freezing (cryopreservation) of sperm, eggs and embryos. Our team can then thaw these materials for our patients to use in the future.
Cryopreservation of sperm has been available for decades. It is the procedure of choice for preserving male fertility. The most common reason for this procedure is when cancer treatment could permanently destroy a man’s ability to produce sperm. Another reason might be prior to vasectomy if the man wants to retain the possibility of fertility in the future. Sometimes following a vasectomy reversal, we freeze sperm to guard against the possibility of the scarring harming sperm production. In all of these situations, the man collects several semen samples. Our team divides the sperm into portions and freeze them. Current methods of cryopreservation allow for excellent recovery of sperm after the thaw.
Another method of fertility preservation is cryopreservation of pieces of testicular tissue. This is an option for men who don’t want a vasectomy reversal. It is also for men who have very low sperm counts (sometimes zero). In these cases, we may need to surgically remove pieces of testicular tissue to obtain enough sperm for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). We can freeze the unused pieces for later use.
Cryopreservation of eggs is a process that has become very successful in the past few years. A new procedure called vitrification allows us to recover over 90% of the frozen eggs with about a 75% fertilization rate. This has therefore become the best option for single women who desire to delay fertility. The treatment of certain cancers with chemotherapy or pelvic radiation may result in permanent sterilization due to the damage imposed on the ovaries.
For these situations, our team may retrieve the eggs and freeze them before treatment. We can then thaw them later. Some women simply choose to delay fertility until they have found a partner to have children with or because of a busy career. In these situations, we retrieve the eggs and freeze them when the women are younger and the eggs are more likely to be genetically normal. In both situations, the process of vitrification maximizes their future fertility.
Cryopreservation of embryos is the best choice when a woman has a partner who can provide sperm. In situations requiring treatment of cancer for instance, once the eggs are removed from the ovaries they are immediately fertilized and the resultant embryos are then cryopreserved. The Vitrification process is used for embryo cryopreservation and has most recently been shown in our program to give pregnancy rates very close to those achieved when using fresh embryos. Cryopreserved embryos have been successfully used when thawed after 10 years in our hands, and there are reports of embryos leading to pregnancy after 20 years of storage.
Contact us to learn more about fertility preservation.