- Overview (jump to section): Fertility preservation is the general term for treatments designed for women, men and transgender individuals to protect the ability to have children in the future, such as freezing eggs, embryos or sperm.
- Candidates: A person may pursue fertility preservation for medical reasons such as facing fertility-damaging cancer treatment, or for a personal reason like the desire to freeze eggs when they are healthy for a pregnancy later in life.
- Procedure: Generally, fertility preservation includes extraction, freezing and storing (cryopreservation) of mature eggs (oocytes), embryos (fertilized eggs) or sperm, depending on the patient in question.
- Risks: The main risk associated with fertility preservation is linked to the freezing and thawing processes, which carries a small risk for possible damage to frozen eggs, sperm and embryos.
What is fertility preservation (cryopreservation)?
Fertility preservation is the overall term for the medical treatment to preserve male, female or LGBTQ+ individual’s opportunity to have a child in the future.
Men, women and even girls can utilize fertility preservation techniques. This may involve the cryopreservation (freezing and storage) of mature eggs, sperm, embryos or reproductive tissue (ovarian or testicular) for later use in assisted reproductive treatments.
A combination of personal and medical reasons may prompt someone to consider fertility preservation for future parenthood.
Planned egg freezing
For example, a woman (or transgender man) may choose to do what is called planned oocyte cryopreservation or “egg freezing.” Planned egg freezing is when a woman freezes her eggs at a younger age because she wants to protect her reproductive potential or would like to delay having children for reasons such as focusing on a career.
Men can do the same with their sperm, though age does not affect their fertility as much as it does women’s.
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Fertility preservation for medical reasons
Fertility preservation may be a good decision for those with genetic conditions that reduce fertility and for people facing certain surgeries that can cause damage to their reproductive systems.
Oncofertility is fertility preservation for those facing cancer treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, all of which can cause infertility.
Transgender individuals may wish to pursue fertility preservation before undergoing gender-affirming therapy such as surgery or hormonal treatment.
Your first “baby”sitters
Our laboratory staff takes excellent care of your cryopreserved specimens, following rigorous guidelines and utilizing the best equipment and monitoring procedures. Our embryology lab and cryopreservation tanks are equipped with constant alarm monitoring and emergency generator backup power to protect your precious specimens.
Who should consider fertility preservation?
Our fertility specialists will discuss the best options for each patient’s situation. Our physicians, nurses and embryologists will answer all questions and address any concerns patients have.
Common reasons for people to pursue fertility preservation include those who:
Fertility preservation procedures
Risks and concerns of cryopreservation
The primary risk associated with fertility preservation is the possibility of damage to frozen eggs and embryos, although this is rare.
For women undergoing egg retrieval (extraction), there is a risk of reactions to hormones taken prior to the procedure. This can include allergies and a very small risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).