Frequently Asked Questions About Fertility Preservation

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Who may benefit from fertility preservation?

  • Patients facing the following:
    • Gonadotoxic therapies
    • Chemotherapy
    • Radiation
    • Radical pelvic surgeries
    • Malignancies
    • Hematologic and autoimmune disorders
    • Conditions associated with premature gonadal failure include autoimmune and genetic condition
  • Combat military personnel, high-impact athletes, prior to male sterilization

Why should fertility preservation be discussed prior to cancer treatment?

  • Annually, approximately 150,000 men and women during their child-bearing years are newly diagnosed with cancer and, therefore, are at risk for permanent infertility.
  • The prognosis of long-term survivor of cancer has improved dramatically over the past twenty years.
  • The advancements in reproductive medicine and its availability over the past decade have improved outcomes.

Why is fertility at risk from chemotherapy or radiation?

  • The cytotoxicity of chemotherapy is not limited to the cancer cells. Many other cells in the body are also affected and, in particular, the germ cells (eggs and sperm producing cells).
  • Not all chemotherapy agents carry the same risk of sterility, and it should be discussed with your medical provider.
  • Radiation treatment to the abdomen and pelvis is associated with high risk of sterility after the treatment due to complete loss of germ cells (eggs and sperm-producing cells).

When should a patient or clinician consider fertility preservation?

  • When any fertility-threatening treatment is considered
  • At diagnosis of cancer, prior to initiation of chemotherapy or radiation treatment

How is fertility preserved?

The most common method is by utilizing cryopreservation (freezing) sperm, eggs, embryos and testicular, ovarian tissue. Freezing cells or tissue to ultralow temperatures causes cells to stop from going through a “life cycle” and preserves it until cells and embryos are thawed and resume it’s natural cycle. The long-term storage can care over decades without significant effect on cell and embryos survival and pregnancy potential.