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Fertility Preservation for Women

The procedures listed below have varying risks and side effects.  Some options may not be recommended for certain types of cancer or disease. There may also be treatments available that have a smaller risk of infertility.  It is important to discuss these procedures with your physician and your insurance provider since they may be expensive and not covered by insurance.

 

  

Embryo Banking
During this process, a woman’s ovaries are first stimulated to mature multiple eggs, which are then removed and fertilized through in vitro fertilization (IVF) with sperm to create embryos.  The embryos are then frozen for future use.  The entire process can take up to one month.  Watch an animation about embryo banking.
Egg Banking
This is a new technology that is starting to show good results but is still considered experimental.  This process is exactly the same as described for embryo banking except that the eggs are NOT fertilized before freezing.  This is a good option for single women who do not have a male partner and do not want to use donor sperm.  The entire process can take up to one month.  Watch an animation about egg banking.
Ovarian Tissue Banking
One entire ovary is removed surgically and the outer surface (cortex) which contains the eggs is frozen in strips for later use.  Women who are survivors of some types of cancer can have pieces of the tissue thawed and transplanted back.  A number of pregnancies have resulted from using this technique.  Transplant is not safe following some types of cancer (e.g. leukemia) because of the risk of re-seeding the original cancer.  New techniques are still experimental but may be the best option for women who must start their treatments immediately.
Ovarian Transposition
Surgeons can move the ovaries away from the area receiving radiation therapy.  The goal of the surgery is to move the ovaries within the pelvis where they can still function, but will be out of the way of harmful radiation.  This technique will not protect against the effects of chemotherapy.
Pelvic Shielding
It may be possible to shield one or both ovaries to protect them from radiation during treatment.
GnRH Agonists
Data are limited about the efficacy of GnRHa to prevent diminished ovarian reserve or ovarian failure.  The mechanism by which this treatment might prevent premature menopause is unclear – some theories include the decrease in ovarian perfusion, the suppression of pituitary FSH, and the activation of GnRH receptors.  Read more about GnRH Agonists.

 

The information provided on the CKN website is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient and his/her physician.  CKN thanks the Oncofertility Consortium for providing content on this site. If you’d like more information, or to make a suggestion: Contact us.

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One Response to Fertility Preservation for Women

  1. Pingback: YAFC: Fertility - Cancer Knowledge Network

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