Fertility preservation is a new field in reproductive medicine, and it aims to help patients reduce the effects of cancer treatments, age, endometriosis, or medical other conditions on their ability to have children.
Undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer can potentially lead to infertility and ovarian failure in women, and infertility or sperm damage in men. The need for fertility preservation has increased with improving cancer treatments and increasing survival among patients.
At present, fertility preservation is discussed with patients less than 50% of the time when a diagnosis of cancer is made. Many physicians and patients are concerned that fertility preservation may lead to delays in treatment, which can affect their outcome. For this reason, many patients are not sent to a fertility specialist for counseling or fertility preservation prior to receiving chemotherapy or radiation, although the delay is minimal and unlikely to affect their outcome.
Many women are concerned with their careers or personal situations and would like to delay childbearing until a more appropriate time in their life. While there is a slight decrease in fertility after the age of 27, fertility starts to decrease significantly in women after the age of 35, with most women unable to have children by the age of 45. The decline in fertility is due to both, a decrease in egg number and egg quality.
Studies show that women in their mid-30s have only 5% of their eggs left compared to when they began their menstrual cycles in adolescence. Fertility preservation allows women to preserve their fertility (some options are discussed below) until a more appropriate time in their life. Pregnancy rates are determined by the age of the patient at the time of egg retrieval from the ovary, not the age when the embryos (fertilized eggs) are transferred back to the patient.
Women who have been diagnosed with severe endometriosis have a high risk of early decline in ovarian function. Endometriosis (growth of the uterine lining outside of the uterus) can spread to the ovaries and significantly reduce a patient’s ovarian reserve (number of eggs available) by destroying the ovarian tissue.
Ovarian reserve is especially susceptible to endometriosis because the eggs are stored on the ovarian surface (the cortex), which is the location for endometriosis attachment and growth.
Women can also receive medical therapies that damage the reproductive function of the ovaries, such as treatments for conditions that affect the kidney. Patients receiving treatments that may affect their fertility should be informed by their doctor and seek a consultation for fertility preservation as well.
We can help you “Save your Eggs.” Call to Preserve your fertility (713)467-4488