There are two normal scenarios whereby people may wish to preserve their fertility – medical and social. Preservation normally means cryopreserving eggs, sperms or embryos for use at a later date with the intention of locking-in your current fertility for the future.
Preservation for Medical Reasons.
The original reason scientists developed cryopreservation techniques was to offer future fertility treatment to cancer sufferers. More often nowadays the cancer treatment is successful in treating the sufferer but at the same time it reduces their fertility reserve or renders them sterile. Cryopreserved eggs, sperms or embryos, although often successful, can never be guaranteed to produce a child but if this is the only choice people have, they should discuss their options with their doctor.
Fertility Preservation for Social Reasons
Increasingly people wish to delay starting their families and freeze their eggs, sperms or embryos for use later. People should be aware that no treatment can guarantee success and that this delaying decision may lead to them not having children. Eggs and sperms have been frozen for many years now. The techniques are established, results are known and gold-standard scientific reviews have been carried out. We can be confident that the thawed items will produce nearly as good results as if they were fresh. This standard of data still does not exist anywhere for egg freezing, as it is a newer and more difficult procedure, and therefore egg freezing is still classified as experimental by most clinics. Nevertheless, it is an option that is becoming more and more common and we offer it here at Concept, as well as sperm and embryo freezing.
Men or women expecting to face a hazardous environment, eg in a military situation or if they may be exposed to radiation or chemicals, may wish to consider their fertility preservation options.
A decision has to be whether to have their family naturally (consider their social/work reasons or settle for Mr Almost-Right?) or to cryopreserve. And if it is the latter, whether to cryopreserve eggs or embryos. Donor sperm is available to create embryos (and these offer a better chance of producing a child than if the eggs are preserved) but this eliminates the option of a future male partner being the genetic father.
There are fewer social reasons for freezing sperm as, although male fertility does decline with age, it is usually viable well into old age. If men have to have their sperm surgically extracted, it is usually cryopreserved so that it can be used for planned fertility treatment.