The decision to become a mother is not only personal, but additionally determined by eggs having the capacity to become fertile.
Medical advances in assisted human reproduction treatments have led to breakthroughs in the vitrification of eggs in order to preserve the possibility of motherhood. Although relatively new to the field of assisted human reproduction treatments in comparison to other procedures, it is now possible for women who choose to delay parenthood for personal or medical reasons to have children at a later date. Female fertility preservation protects against sterility, whether that be determined by disease (usually cancer), or when a woman decides to delay motherhood.
Below are some frequently asked questions addressed in order to help clarify concepts in regards to maternal preservation
What is female fertility preservation?
Female fertility preservation permits those who wish to delay parenthood or are at risk of becoming sterile maintain their ability to undergo assisted human reproduction treatment in the future.
Who is the treatment recommended for?
Female fertility preservation is a course of action advocated for women undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments for cancer who are at risk of becoming infertile, in addition to patients suffering from autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis and require subjection to cytotoxins. The treatment is also an alternative for younger women diagnosed with severe endometriosis, while women may also wish to postpone maternity for a range of personal, professional or medical reasons.
What are the principal reasons for preserving motherhood?
- Social reasons: women who wish to delay motherhood due personal or professional circumstances.
- Medical reasons:
- Cancer sufferers with the consent of a medical oncologist prior to undergoing oncological therapy.
- In cases of illnesses or surgery which may affect fertility.
- In the event of a diagnosis of low follicular reserve (cells located inside the egg), as such cells do not regenerate and decrease in number as a woman ages.
What techniques are used to preserve motherhood?
There are various medical and surgical procedures available to women, but the most frequently used are:
- Cryopreservation of eggs. Once ovaries produce an adequate number of eggs following hormonal treatment, they can be extracted by means of an outpatient operation referred to follicular puncture. The practice lasts no more than 20 minutes, before the eggs are then cryopreserved using vitrification methods and remained stored until required by the patient prior to conclusion of her reproductive age.
- Cryopreservation of embryos. In reference to this course of action, in addition to extracting a patient’s eggs, in vitro fertilisation is undergone using sperm from a partner or donor. These embryos are then cryopreserved by vitrification.
- Cryopreservation of ovarian tissue. By means of laparoscopic surgery, fragments of ovarian tissue are obtained which are then cryopreserved and used when desired.
What happens after the preservation?
Once you have undergone one of the available fertility preservation treatments, the Instituto de Fertilidad will freeze your eggs, embryos or ovarian tissue in purpose-built containers until the decision is taken to enter parenthood.
What does preserving fertility in men consist of?
In addition to preserving the fertility of women, it is also possible to preserve the fertility of men with a wide-range of treatments. Common methods are:
- Cryopreservation of semen. Sperm count and quality of sperm are taken into account, but semen samples can be frozen and stored for future assisted human reproduction treatments.
- Cryopreservation of testicular tissue. A biopsy obtains small portion of testicular tissue which is safeguarded and used when necessary by means of assisted human reproduction treatments.