A woman’s fertility is at its highest in her twenties. However, many women are not ready to start their family then and may consider the option of fertility preservation treatments.
Fertility preservation is the process of saving your eggs, sperm, embryos or reproductive tissue with the aim of having biological children in the future. On this page, we will look at why fertility preservation is important, who it’s for and what our treatments involve.
There are many reasons why people may decide to preserve their fertility and they often include the following:
If you want a family but you don’t currently feel ready, fertility preservation may be an option for you.
For many people, undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy means their fertility may be affected. Fertility preservation in cancer patients helps avoid infertility. Preservation treatments freeze and store your eggs, sperm, embryos or reproductive tissue until you are ready to have a family.
If you are about to receive cancer treatment but you want to preserve your fertility, it is essential to talk to your doctor before your treatment starts. Your fertility can be damaged after just one cancer treatment session. So, if you want to have a biological family after your treatment, it is definitely worth considering fertility preservation.
If you are in the British Armed Forces, you may want to preserve your fertility before your deployment. This could help protect your chance of having a family in cases of injury.
If you are a transgender person, you may want to consider preserving your fertility. Whether you are a male transitioning to a female or a female transitioning to a male, the transition could lead to part or complete loss of fertility. The fertility preservation options are appealing to many individuals wanting to have a family in the future, but unsure how the changes in their bodies will affect this.
Fertility preservation treatments are beneficial for a variety of people. Some people have certain diseases, health disorders, or life events that may have affected their fertility. These may include the following people:
Fertility preservation in breast cancer patients
Women who have endometriosis
Women with uterine fibroids
Those who wish to delay having children
Individuals with a genetic disease that may affect their future fertility
Those about to be treated for an autoimmune disease, such as lupus.
Putting your fertility on ice is very similar to the start of a standard IVF cycle. It involves a course of daily fertility drug injections for approximately 2 weeks followed by a procedure to remove the eggs.
The eggs are then carefully vitrified and put into store in liquid nitrogen at -196°C. They can be kept under these conditions without deteriorating for an indeterminate length of time.
When you decide that it is time to use these eggs, they will be thawed at the appropriate time of your menstrual cycle and inseminated with a single sperm using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The cells are then placed in an incubator so that fertilisation can take place.
All being well, one or two successfully developed embryos will be transferred to your womb a few days later.