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Q.

What is embryo cryopreservation?

 

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A.

Embryo cryopreservation is the most common way of preserving your ability to get pregnant in the future. Before freezing the embryos, you have a procedure done called in vitro fertilization (IVF). In IVF, you will be given hormones to stimulate the growth of your eggs. After that the eggs will be aspirated (removed by gentle suction). Embryos are then produced by joining the sperm and egg together in the laboratory. The embryos are then frozen. If you decide you want to have children after your cancer treatment is completed, one or two embryos can be placed in your uterus (womb) with or without the help of medications.

Not everyone can have this procedure. You’ll have to take medications that make you produce more eggs than usual. In total, the process may take two to three weeks to complete. Unfortunately, if you need chemotherapy or radiation treatment for your cancer, you may not be able to wait that long. The medications that make your body produce more eggs may also make your body produce more hormones, such as estrogen. Estrogen can make some cancers worse.

Embryo cryopreservation offers the best chance of pregnancy. The odds of an embryo surviving the freezing and thawing process and implanting in your uterus are much higher than those noted with thawing and fertilizing an unfertilized egg or ovarian tissue. If you decide to use embryo cryopreservation, you will need to have a man’s sperm to fertilize your egg before it is frozen. If you do not have a partner, donor sperm can be used. If neither of these sperm sources is possible or available to you, this procedure is probably not the best option for you.

You can find more information from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine on this topic here:

http://www.reproductivefacts.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/Female_Cancers_Cryopreservation_and_Fertility_7-25-11.pdf

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Read the Original Article: Female Cancers, Cryopreservation, and Fertility