Definition - What does Fertility Preservation mean?
Fertility preservation allows individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer and are preparing to undergo treatment with the option to protect their ability to biologically conceive in the future. Preservation options vary based on sex, type of cancer and route of treatment, ranging from the isolation and shielding of reproductive organs to harvesting and storing of eggs or sperm. The process allows an individual of childbearing age to remain potentially capable of having children once the treatment has ended.
FertilitySmarts explains Fertility Preservation
Cancer treatments can have a significant impact on fertility. In women, fertility can be damaged by chemotherapy or radiation, which may impact the hormones, eggs, or functioning of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries. Premature menopause may be induced, and certain treatments may result in the surgical removal of the uterus or ovaries. In men, fertility may be damaged by chemotherapy or radiation that impacts sperm quality, quantity, or DNA, along with the surgical removal of testicles.
Prior to beginning treatment both men and women have options to protect their future ability to conceive. As the risk to fertility is based on the specifics of the patient’s case, the type of preventative treatment is also dependent on these factors.
For women, available options include harvesting methods such as embryo cryopreservation or egg cryopreservation, the removal and freezing of fertilized and unfertilized eggs, respectively. Additionally, the surgical repositioning of the ovaries and gonadal shielding are also options in some cases. For men, the cryopreservation of sperm and gonadal shielding can be effective measures.