What is Fertility Preservation?
Fertility preservation is an emerging field associated with reproductive medicine that offers treatment aimed at protecting future reproductive ability for individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses as well as a convenient option for young couples who intend to delay pregnancy.
Fertility preservation is the process to help patients retain their fertility or ability to have their biological off spring by saving or protecting their reproductive tissue or gametes like eggs for females and sperms for males.
Fertility Preservation – Can i Benefit?
Fertility preservation can benefit people who
- Have cancer before undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- Have been exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace
- Have autoimmune disease, such as lupus nephritis
- Want to delay having children
- Are in military duty
- Have family history of early menopause
- Are adolescent females with turner mosaicism
- Undergo surgical removal of gonads for specific diseases
Some cancer treatments can cause infertility (inability to have a child) or decrease your fertility (ability to have a child). The fertility risk of cancer treatment depends upon the following parameters
When to Ask For Referral?
- Age and sex
- Fertility problems before treatment
- Type of cancer
- Type of treatment
When Diagnosed with cancer irrespective of age and gender, consider your fertility risks, even if you are not sure you want to have children.
A reproductive medicine consultant is a doctor who specializes in fertility problems and can help explain your options for preserving fertility.
Couples who want to intentionally postpone their family planning must visit a good Fertility Centre or a Reproductive Medicine doctor to discuss their fertility options.
Timing is Important!
Fertility preservation methods can take as little as 24 hours for men, and methods for women now take less time than the 2 to 4 weeks needed in the past. Please guide anyone you may know diagnosed with cancer to consult with a reproductive medicine doctor immediately for counseling or visit a fertility centre before the cancer treatment starts.
What are My Fertility Preserving Options?
There are various techniques for saving the gametes and reproductive biological tissues for both men and women-whether they are pre pubertal or adult. Please consult a good Onco-fertility centre/IVF clinic to have a detailed counseling with the reproductive medicine doctor to help you make an informed decision and choose the right method for fertility preservation.
The most commonly used method is embryo cryopreservation for couples, oocyte cryopreservation for single women and sperm cryopreservation for single men. The oocytes and sperms are later fertilized with the partner’s gametes through Assisted reproductive techniques like IVF and ICSI when pregnancy is planned.
Stay tuned for more information on oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) and embryo freezing.
Dr. Arveen Vohra
MBBS, MS(OBG) GOLD MEDALIST, FRM
Consultant- Reproductive Medicine