Fertility preservation involves freezing and storing eggs, sperm, or embryos. Techniques for preserving fertility offer women the choice of when to become a mother. These treatments can also be used to ensure patients are able to have children after completing treatments for cancer that may affect their fertility.
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The following preservation techniques are offered by IVI:
Mature eggs obtained following ovarian stimulation are cryopreserved using vitrification so that they can be used at a later date. This technique preserves fertility so effectively that eggs have the same likelihood of resulting in a successful pregnancy after vitrification as they did before they were frozen. This is achieved by using a vitrification process that involves a very rapid drop in temperature to prevent ice crystals from forming during the freezing process.
Cryopreservation of the ovarian cortex has resulted in successful pregnancies in some countries. This technique helps restore ovarian function so that babies can be conceived naturally or using assisted reproduction techniques. Another benefit is that it restores normal hormone levels and so helps avoid the secondary effects of early menopause (for example osteoporosis, hot flushes and cardiovascular problems).
This can be useful for:
Ovarian function and preserving fertility are two of the aspects which most concern female cancer patients. Preserving your fertility when you are fighting cancer can help you maintain and enhance your self-esteem.
Improvements in treatments and screening programmes mean that more and more people are overcoming cancer. This increased survival rate has led to a greater focus on the secondary effects of treatments using chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
We at IVI have worked hard to find ways to offer cancer survivors options for preserving their fertility so that when they are well enough, the option of having a baby is still there for them.
As part of our commitment to help cancer patients, in December 2015 IVI donated £250,000 to the Oxford University Hospital Trust to fund a service to preserve the fertility of children with cancer. The IVI Foundation is also working with Oxford University on the basic science around the return of fertility to young people who have been treated for cancer.
The effects of cancer on fertility:
There are currently several different options and treatments available to cancer patients to help maintain their fertility:
These treatments aiming to preserve the fertility of cancer patients cannot guarantee a future pregnancy, but they do mean that it is possible to try.