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What is Fertility Preservation?

Fertility preservation is the technique of preserving your eggs, sperm or reproductive tissue to conceive in the future.

For people who have been diagnosed with cancer, fertility preservation is an important consideration. Chemotherapy or radiation can cause abnormal changes in egg or sperm which can lead to genetic defects in a child. Your doctor recommends avoiding planning a child for up to 2 to 5 years following treatment if there are chances of cancer recurring. Also, there is some indication that hormonal changes during pregnancy may be associated with the recurrence of cancer.

For women in their 30s, fertility preservation is necessary if they want to conceive in the future cancer treatment is usually associated with early menopause.

Fertility Preservation Options

Fertility preservation methods are different for males and females. It is important that you talk to your doctor about these methods and plan early to preserve your fertility.

Fertility-preserving options in men

The options for men may include:

  • Testicular sperm extraction and epididymal sperm aspiration involve removing a small amount of tissue from the testicles or epididymis. The mature sperm are frozen and stored for later use through assisted reproduction (a technique of artificially fertilizing a preserved sperm with a woman’s egg outside the body, and transferring the embryo into the uterus for development).
  • Sperm cryopreservation: In boys who have not entered puberty, a small portion of the testicular tissue, containing stem cells that will eventually become sperm, is extracted, frozen and stored.
  • Sperm banking involves preserving (freezing) semen for assisted reproductive procedures.
  • Gonadal shielding: It is the process of shielding the testicles with the help of a lead apron during radiation treatment.

Fertility-preserving options in women

The options for women may include:

  • Embryo freezing also referred to as embryo cryopreservation, involves the collection of mature eggs and fertilization with sperm in the laboratory. The resulting fertilized embryos are frozen and preserved until the woman is ready to become pregnant.
  • Oocyte freezing - involves the collection of mature eggs and freezing them (without fertilization with sperm).
  • Oophoropexy or ovarian transposition - involves surgically moving the ovaries away from the path of radiation and bringing them back to their original position after treatment, with the intention of protecting the ovaries from radiation therapy.
  • In girls who have not yet entered puberty, ovarian tissue preservation is performed, which involves the surgical removal of ovarian tissue and preserving it by freezing. The tissue may be transplanted back into the girl after the cancer treatment.
  • Gonadal shielding: It is the process of shielding the pelvic area with the help of a lead apron during radiation treatment.

Fertility-preserving procedures may vary for each individual and each condition. You should discuss it with your doctor in detail before you decide.

Benefits of Fertility Preservation

Fertility preservation is beneficial for people who are:

  • About to be treated by cancer
  • Suffering from a genetic disease that can affect fertility in the future
  • Planning to delay having a child
  • Suffering from uterine fibroids or endometriosis
  • Working in an environment with exposure to toxic chemicals

Other Procedures

Practice Location

Fertility and Endometriosis Institute

7900 Fannin Street,
Suite 1490,
(Woman’s Hospital campus)
Houston, TX 77054

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Practice Hours:
Mon to Fri : 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.