Fertility Preservation is the freezing of a patient’s eggs (oocytes), fertilized eggs (embryos) or sperm to achieve pregnancy on a laterdate. Pregnancy rates after fertility preservation have improved significantly in the last decade due to improvements in freezing technology and the use of rapid freezing (vitrification). There are many reasons, both medical and personal, that cause patients or couples to decide to delay childbearing.
The field of fertility preservation originally developed as a way for patients to have children after receiving treatments for cancer that are harmful and which can eliminate a woman’s egg supply or a man’s sperm supply. In order to prevent damage to their egg or sperm supply, patients can freeze (cryopreserve) their oocytes, embryos or sperm prior to undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or surgery for cancer. After the cancer treatment has been completed and it is safe to become pregnant, couples can decide to use the cryopreserved oocytes, embryos or sperm to go ahead with fertility treatments, often In Vitro Fertilization, to become pregnant. In many circumstances, patients or couples can still try to get pregnant on their own after cancer therapy and if they are not able to, they can still use their frozen oocytes, embryos or sperm for fertility treatments.
More recently and now more commonly, patients or couples decide to delay childbearing for personal reasons which can include the absence of a long-term partner or for work, health or financial considerations. In these circumstances your doctor will help you develop an individualized plan to meet your needs. Once the oocytes, embryos or sperm have been frozen (cryopreserved), they can be used after one month to many years later without any significant decrease in pregnancy rates