What Is Fertility Preservation?
Fertility preservation means actively taking steps to prolong your fertile lifespan. Essentially it means to delay having a biological child by saving or protecting eggs and sperm to use at some point in the future. Both men and women have options available to preserve their fertility.
Whilst maintaining a healthy lifestyle, ensuring diet is balanced and engaging in regular exercise will have beneficial effects of general wellbeing and fertility, their impact on long term fertility remains debatable. The age related decline in fertility in both men and women is well recognised but the mechanism and ability to stop the decline are unclear. So increasingly, men and women are turning to medical interventions to preserve fertility.
Mr Rehan Salim, Consultant at the Wolfson Fertility Centre at Hammersmith Hospital, explains: “There are several reasons you might want to preserve your fertility and delay starting a family. For some patients, medical problems and the effect of any treatments will have a negative impact on fertility. This is particularly the case for cancer and chemotherapy. An increasing number of patients, particularly women, are choosing to preserve fertility by freezing their eggs. The reasons are often complex but can include not having a partner, career pressures or simply not being ready to have a child immediately but wanting to keep some options open.”
The Wolfson Fertility Centre provides comprehensive fertility and IVF services for private patients at its Hammersmith Hospital site in London and has been preserving sperm, eggs and embryos for decades. The centre has a long track record of safe storage.
Delaying The Start Of Your Family
Women are born with all their eggs and can not produce any to replace what they lost with advancing age. As this pool of eggs declines, it is recognised that the decline is not only of quantity but also quality. Occasionally, medical factors, such as chemotherapy drugs, are necessary, and these will accelerate the decline.
Doctors and women are increasingly discussing this decline in fertility. A statement from the RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) notes that aged 30, 75% of women would fall pregnant within a year. This figure falls to 66% at age 35 and continues to tail off – more dramatically past the age of 40. These complex issues around fertility and miscarriage and advancing age are leading to discussions on fertility preservation via egg freezing.
Private Pregnancy UK can highlight a number of top fertility clinics both in the UK and abroad, to support you with your diagnosis and help realise your dream of having a baby. We also have useful articles, including IVF Success Rates In The UK. Please take time to browse through the information and your available options.
Fertility Preservation Due To Illness
Cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy can affect your fertility. Some people are affected short term and then go on to have families, but others can have long term effects.
What Treatments Are Available To Preserve Fertility?
- Embryo freezing
Embryo freezing is the most common form of fertility preservation in the UK. It follows the process of IVF treatment. Eggs are harvested from the woman and fertilised with the sperm in a laboratory. These embryos are then frozen for use at a later date. Success rates using frozen embryos continue to improve thanks to technological advances, although some embryos might not survive the thawing process.
- Egg freezing
Egg freezing is the first part of the process of IVF treatment. Hormones are used to encourage multiple egg harvesting, at which point the eggs are frozen for future use. Whilst this technique has less data to support it than embryo freezing, there is a growing amount of evidence that is encouraging and supportive of egg freezing as a method of fertility preservation.
- Sperm freezing
As with egg freezing, sperm is collected and frozen. Sperm freezing has been successful and sperm collected before cancer treatment is just as likely to produce babies as sperm from those without cancer.
Many people are still unaware of their medical options for fertility preservation but with more media coverage in the past few years, information is more readily available. It’s advisable to talk to your doctor or fertility specialist if you are thinking of taking steps to preserve your fertility.
The private services at the Wolfson Fertility Centre are managed by Imperial Private Healthcare.
Related Article: How Fertile Am I?