Freezing eggs or semen to be parents in the future is an increasingly common option. For different reasons, both men and women may wish to postpone their paternity or maternity respectively, without losing the quality of their gametes, due to the passage of time or to treatments or surgeries that may be harmful to their fertility. This can be achieved by preserving fertility.
For what cases is fertility preservation used?
The reasons for carrying out a preservation of fertility can be by medical indication or for social reasons:
- Firstly, with the intention of delaying their maternity by social factors. It is increasingly common for women not to be prepared to be mothers because of the current society, the lifestyle and the personal and professional situation of each woman. Due to the fact that, at present, the ideal biological age for becoming pregnant rarely corresponds to the age at which women are prepared for it. It is possible to resort to the preservation of the eggs and to “stop” the biological clock in some way.
- On the other hand, preservation of fertility can be performed prior to surgery that may affect the ovarian reserve or seminal quality..
- In addition, in patients with cancer or suffering from autoimmune disease, both male and female, who will receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy and even bone marrow transplants.
What does preservation of fertility mean? What procedure should be followed in each case?
The preservation of fertility can be performed in different ways according to the requirements of the situation of each patient, thus, the following techniques can be applied:
- Cryopreservation or, what is the same, freezing gametes (eggs and spermatozoa). This method is the most used since it is simpler and it is possible to do it individually for each person, regardless of having or not having a couple at the time of treatment. The process of freezing the female gametes is longer and more complex than the male gametes, since in the case of the women a hormonal stimulation is required to obtain a greater number of ovules, as it is realized in the donations of ovules or for a cycle of in vitro fertilization.
- Embryo freezing. This case is usually proposed to heterosexual couples, since the gametes of both are needed to get the embryos. It has a higher success rate, however needing a couple is an important long-term decision.
- Freezing of ovarian or testicular tissue. This is a technique used in special cases such as patients with hormone-dependent cancer, such as breast cancer. In this type of cancer, treatment of ovarian stimulation may be counterproductive to the patient, so it is safer to freeze a portion of ovarian tissue without any stimulation. It is also very useful in cases of childhood diseases that affect the reproductive organs and that, because of the early age of patients, they can not freeze their gametes by not producing them yet.
What is the appropriate age to preserve fertility?
In the case of men, age does not greatly influence the results of sperm cryopreservation, the spermatic quality prior to freezing is more important. However, in women when the reason for preservation is social, it is recommended to preserve fertility before the age of 35. At that age a large reduction of the ovarian reserve of great importance is usually produced.
How long can frozen eggs or sperm be preserved?
Both eggs and sperm, once cryopreserved, they can stay that way indefinitely. The elapsed time will not influence the quality of those gametes. It should only be taken into account that its use should be carried out during the physiologically fertile age of the woman and, in addition, taking into account that assisted reproduction centers have a maternal age limit, for the safety and health of the future mothers and children.
In summary, for any of these cases, fertility preservation is a technique that significantly improves the probability of a pregnancy, in advanced age or after overcoming a disease that affects fertility. If you are interested you can consult our website or contact us at any time.
C. Orjuela, Embryologist.
Vithas Perpetuo Internacional. Plaza del Doctor Gómez Ulla 15, en Alicante.
Teléfono: 965230397 / +34 606437458