There are a number of reasons both men and women look to preserve their fertility into the future. One reason is to preserve fertility until after cancer treatment or gender-affirming hormone treatment, and another is for people who think their fertility may decline before they are ready to have children.
Sperm, eggs, embryos, and ovarian tissue can all be frozen for people who face losing their fertility because of cancer treatment or another reason.
The right time to try to have a baby is an incredibly personal decision and greatly depends on your unique circumstances. Whether you are single, married, or in a LGBTTQI+ relationship, if you're not in a position to try for a baby now, egg freezing may be an option to help preserve your fertility. The typical process for women looks very similar to the first part of IVF. The ovaries are stimulated with hormonal medications to produce as many eggs as possible. Those eggs are then retrieved from the ovaries and frozen by a method called vitrification. When the patient wants to use the eggs, they will be thawed and the second half of an IVF cycle will resume–adding sperm to the eggs, embryo transfer, and freezing any spare embryos.
Ovarian tissue freezing is also an option for patients facing cancer treatments. This technique involves removing one or both ovaries surgically and freezing thin slices of ovarian tissue. The slices are transplanted back to the patient once treatment has finished.
There are a number of reasons people look to preserve their fertility into the future, whether it’s necessitated by medical diagnoses, or a helpful option for people who think their fertility may decline before they are ready to have children.
Sperm freezing is straightforward, and many people will have enough sperm in one ejaculate for several IVF cycles. If there are enough good quality sperm after thawing then the first approach may be to try IUI treatment, keeping some sperm in reserve for IVF later if IUI is not successful. If IUI will be considered as an option, it’s typically best to freeze three or more semen samples.