Now more than ever, women are waiting later and later to begin their families. It is not uncommon for women to have their first child in their late thirties and continue bearing children into their 40s. 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. Regardless of your reason for interest, cryopreservation and cryostorage are advances in the medical field that allow patients another opportunity at having a family. Here at Carolinas Fertility Institute, we want to ensure you have access to accurate and helpful information regarding 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
- Have not met a 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 may affect fertility in the future
Whether or not you reside with any of the above reasons, fertility preservation has become widely acceptable for women of all backgrounds. It is important to keep in mind that a woman’s peak reproductive years are between her late teens and late 20s and starts to decline rapidly once hitting her mid-30s. By the time a woman is 40 years old, the likelihood of her not getting pregnant is greater than getting pregnant.
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.
- 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.
There is a lot to fertility preservation— and luckily, we’re here to help! Carolinas Fertility Institute (CFI), is a nation-leading clinic in North and South Carolina that captures your current vitality and preserves it for the future. We offer elective egg preservation (oocyte cryopreservation) for patients interested in preventing age-related declines in fertility, as well as egg and sperm cryopreservation for oncology patients prior to chemotherapy.
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 forward to meeting you!