Fertility Preservation Options for Men and Women
Preserving fertility is an important measure that patients can take to protect their ability to reproduce. This option is helpful if your are not yet ready to conceive, or are undergoing treatment for a disease that may cause sterility. We often see patients who are undergoing cancer treatment and would like to ensure that their reproductive opportunities will still be available after their recovery. We offer several fertility preservation options for both men and women at our Omaha fertility center. If you are undergoing cancer treatment or need more time to decide if you are ready to have children, please contact our office to make an appointment and learn more.
Fertility Preservation Through Vitrification
The process of vitrification offers an important breakthrough in fertility preservation. Vitrification refers to freezing reproductive tissues with high concentrations of cryoprotectants that do not allow the formation of ice crystals, which can be harmful to cells, especially eggs. A cryoprotectant is a substance used to protect biological tissue from freezing damage by replacing the water in the cell. By using this technique of cryogenically preserving tissue, the cells are allowed to remain in a glass-like state while frozen and remain viable for extended periods of time. With other techniques, reproductive tissues can become damaged during the thawing process if ice crystals are present.
Fertility preservation with vitrification provides an additional benefit for patients who are using donated eggs. Without this process, the donor and the recipient of the eggs must have synchronized ovarian release cycles before embryo transfer can take place, which can be a burdensome and time-consuming process. By freezing cells, the eggs or embryos can be transferred when the recipient patient's cycle dictates, without the need to synchronize the two.
Providing Hope Through Difficult Diagnoses
Certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can be harmful to both male and female fertility. By preserving reproductive tissue, patients are increasing the likelihood that they will be able to conceive following their recovery. Fertility preservation was originally intended for cancer patients, but in recent years the definition has been expanded to include patients with certain genetic disorders, those who require repeated surgeries on their reproductive organs, and women who wish to preserve their eggs before their fertility window closes.
The Process of Fertility Preservation
For men who are interested in fertility preservation due to the diagnosis of a condition which may affect their fertility, the process is the same as in a sperm donation. Our doctors will typically advise patients to preserve multiple samples to ensure that an adequate amount of reproductive material will be available when it is needed.
For women who are interested in fertility preservation, the process is very similar to the first two steps of an in vitro fertilization cycle. The woman will be given fertility medications to encourage the release of multiple eggs, which will then be retrieved through a surgical procedure. The eggs can be frozen as oocytes, or fertilized with a donor or her partner's sperm and preserved as an embryo to remain viable for the time she is ready to conceive.
Contact Our Office
If you are concerned with the effects of aging or are facing a difficult diagnosis, fertility preservation can safeguard your chances of reproduction. If you would like to learn more about your options, please contact our practice to schedule a consultation with one of our fertility specialists.