Today, women are waiting later and later to begin their families. It is common for women to have their first child in their late thirties and continue bearing children well into their 40’s. Whether a personal choice, such as establishing their career prior to starting a family, or a medical choice, such as waiting until in remission from cancer to begin conceiving, the facts are the same: women are having children later.
So what does this mean for their fertility? It is no secret that the longer you wait to have children the more difficult it becomes. A woman’s chances of conceiving lessen each year that she ages. In order to ensure that a woman is able to have the family she wants when she is ready, many women are taking part in fertility preservation.
Fertility Preservation Defined
Fertility preservation is the process used to freeze or save eggs, sperm, or reproductive tissue in order to use them at a later time. This technique was initially popular in women who were undergoing cancer treatment and wanted to protect their eggs, but today, there are many reasons why a couple or woman may benefit from fertility preservation, such as:Would like to delay having children
- Would like to delay having children
- Have not met life partner but want to take steps now
- Have been exposed to toxic chemicals (such as in the workplace or military)
- A medical condition such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids
- Undergoing cancer treatment
- Receiving treatment for an autoimmune disease
- Have been diagnosed with a genetic disease that affects future fertility
Fertility Preservation Options
Different options exist when it comes to fertility preservation. For males, sperm cryopreservation is the process of freezing male sperm for future use. For women, the following options are available:Embryo cryopreservation: fertilized eggs are frozen for future use.
- Embryo cryopreservation: fertilized eggs are frozen for future use.
- Oocyte cryopreservation: unfertilized eggs are frozen for future use.
If undergoing treatment for cancer, there are also techniques that can be used to protect the reproductive organs of both males and females, known as gonadal shielding. Additionally, relocating the ovaries, and at times the fallopian tubes, to an area where they will be protected from radiation is another option known as ovarian transportation. If you are to begin radiation treatment, speak with your oncologist or fertility expert about your fertility preservation options. Cancer does not have to put a damper on your family planning.
If you are interested in learning more about fertility preservation, we invite you to explore Carolinas Fertility Institute. Take a look at our in vitro fertilization success rates and meet our expert team. When ready, request an appointment. We look forwarding to meeting you.